Handling Stress, Right Way vs Wrong Way aka: My Way

I don’t handle stress well. I am ridiculously, comically bad at appropriately coping when I am feeling overwhelmed. There is the everyday stress of trying to keep three children alive, taking them all to their myriad of activities and trying to keep the house from looking like hoarders live here. And then there is acute stress, like trying to move a family of five and 15 years worth of crap into a new house. I would love to say that I am a pillar of strength when times get tough, but that would be a big, fat lie.
It is ironic because, as a school psychologist, I spend a large part of my workday helping students learn coping skills for handling all sorts of emotions. It is a case of “do what I say, not what I do” I suppose. Luckily my students don’t have the pleasure of witnessing my disastrous ways of handling stressful situations.
There are many well-established, researched based tips for handling stress and anxiety. I can spout them off to kiddos in a heartbeat. I just am not great at taking my own advice. The following are top tips from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America for handling anxiety and stress.
Right Way: Take a time out. Remove yourself from the anxiety-inducing situation.
My Way: Hide in the hall closet looking at Instagram on my phone while the kids are screaming my name and asking for a snack.
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Best Games to Play with Kids

I often hear parents complaining about having to play with their kids and I just don’t understand. I love playing games with my kids. They just have to be the right games. Sure, I want to poke my eyes out if I have to sit through multiple games of Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land. I would much rather sit in the shade and catch up on the latest news on my phone than try to play tag at the park. Running in sand while wearing flip flops is not my idea of a good time. But I have learned through many years of experience that there are some tried and true games that I will always willingly play.

 

Massage Parlor

What? You’ve never played Massage Parlor? You are missing out. This game is the best. The main rule of this game is pretty simple: don’t hurt Mommy.

I announce “Hello! I’m here for my massage!” Then I fall face down on the floor or the couch. After three hours of listening to my kids fight over whose Minecraft world is the best, this is a pretty natural position to assume. My kids massage my back and my feet and it is glorious. If they start getting a little wild with the shiatsu, I make it into a contest about who can give the best massage and then their best work comes out. It’s easy to declare a winner: Me!

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Following Rules Isn’t all it’s Cracked Up to Be

There really is such a thing as “honest to a fault,” and my 12 year old is it. Like good old George Washington, the kid cannot tell a lie. I don’t dare ask him how I look in my new swimsuit. He will tell me. And I probably won’t like the answer.

He believes in order and routine and rules. He follows rules to the letter. I never have to worry about him getting into trouble. He doesn’t. This will serve him (and me) well as he grows up. I highly doubt he will touch a drop of alcohol until his 21st birthday. He will be one of the safest drivers on the road once he gets his license. Rules are good; they are usually for our safety. I am glad he follows them.

Having said that, however, there are some times when I wish that, just once, he could maybe bend a rule here or there. In fact, his adherence to every rule can really cramp my style.

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House Hunting on Nyquil

 

We recently bought a house after a month long search during which I thought we would never find “the one”. Luckily, we did, because the search almost killed me. We only looked at about twenty houses, but it felt like 13 million.
Sometime during our house hunt I came down with a nasty cold. One day the kids and I were going to meet my husband at a house over his lunch break. I was tired of my constant coughing and nose blowing so I decided to break down and take some cold medicine before we left. I usually try to avoid taking medicine because it either makes me sleepy or jittery; but drastic times called for drastic measures.
I grabbed a DayQuil and swallowed it. I registered a second too late that the pill I had taken was not an orange DayQuil, but, instead was most assuredly a green NyQuil.
“Oh well”, I thought, “I’m a little sleepy anyway.” I didn’t think I would even notice.
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Summer Stages of Grief

The chorus “schooooooooooooool’s out for summer!” has been running through my head for the past week. It’s hard to believe summer is upon us already. I, for one, am NOT swimsuit ready. I’m barely even t-shirt ready. If I could just stay covered up in my winter coat for a bit longer, that would be great.

I work in a school three days a week. While I am as eager as all other school employees to enjoy some time off of work; for me, summer vacation is a double edged sword. While it is nice to not have to wake up at dawn and shower every day, I do miss the two days per week when I am just home with my youngest. This year he went to preschool in the mornings, so I had some time to get stuff done around the house, run errands, go to the gym, etc. The afternoons were also fairly peaceful and I enjoyed my time with my little guy.

The peace and quiet that we enjoyed is soon to be dramatically shattered. The older kids are done with school for the year next week. I don’t know what it’s like in other people’s homes, but in my house we have a pretty solid two week period of hell at the start of every summer. The kids fight, they don’t know what to do with so much unstructured time, and I silently grieve the peace and quiet that I previously enjoyed while the kids were in school.

As with all types of grief, there is a process. It happens every year beginning mid-May or so, and it looks like this;

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Google It!

I was sitting in a meeting at work recently and somehow we started talking about ventriloquism. The speech pathologist in the group was wondering how one voices the bilabial consonants without moving one’s lips. For us laypeople, bilabial consonants are sounds that you make with both lips, like <p> and <b>. It was a good question. The best answer we could come up with was “Google it!”

Which made me think, where in the world would we be without Google? I’ll tell you where we’d be, because I was there most of my life. We’d be looking up stuff in encyclopedias. Thank goodness for Google! Encyclopedias are big, heavy, and hard to keep updated. Kids today have no idea how lucky they are to have limitless information from around the world available to them, literally at their fingertips.

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Kindergarten Round Up

Our city has a “River City Roundup” in September. It’s a week where there are rodeos, livestock shows, parades, etc. For some reason, the elementary school I went to always celebrated this week with gusto. On Friday, we were encouraged to wear cowboy/ cowgirl gear and had lunches involving “six shooter sandwiches” and “yee-haw yogurt”. It was a hootenanny of time!

Because of that memorable week, I always associated “River City Roundup” with another school event that occurred each year- Kindergarten Round Up. My little brain thought that Kindergarten Round Up involved wearing jeans, plaid shirts and handkerchiefs and twirling lassos to collect all the little incoming Kindergarteners.

Now I know I was slightly off in my interpretation. We can’t use rope lassos on 4 and 5 year olds. Or ride horses in school. We can say “Howdy, pardner” and shout “Yee-Haw!” but we might scare the poor children and it’s not really relevant.

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