One thing I struggle with on a daily basis is stress. I am overly stressed on a regular basis, and it’s mostly my own fault. It’s always a little surprising to other people who hear that I’m stressed out, because they say I always look so cool, calm, collected and so put together. It is true; I am put together. However, I’m not always perfect, and I’m not always calm. In fact, I’m usually having a panic attack on the inside. I cannot leave my house unless everything is in perfect order. I cannot think about coming home to a mess or it makes me feel anxious. I feel unhappy if I leave the house and remember that there was a dish in the sink. It stresses me out.
I have four small kids. It’s summer vacation. I work from home. This very week I am feeling more stressed than I ever have in my entire life because nap time for my 2-year-old twins is thrown off thanks to my two oldest going to cheer camp this week every day. That’s every single morning. We get home at 12:30 and have to leave again at 4:30 to go to a mandatary cheer tryout clinic on Mondays, swimming lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays and our annual dinner with our friends on Wednesdays. Weekends are filled with events that we have to attend for our kids and for ourselves.
What it comes down to is that there is not time for me in there. My husband is so helpful when he’s home, but he works an hour from home and his job is highly demanding and he’s almost always on call. I’m just overwhelmed. I sometimes break down and cry. I get frustrated and lose my patience, and I feel like I want to just run away from home sometimes. Fortunately, I’ve been learning to manage my stress and make myself feel a little better on a daily basis. It’s not always easy, but it’s working for me.
In a world in which busy schedules are not something we live without, I thought I might share with you all how I manage my stress to the best of my ability in hopes that it might help you do the same. I can’t promise you anything, but I can help you in any way that I can.
Focus on one thing at a time
It’s been tremendously helpful to me to stop running around like a madman and just focus on one thing at a time. When I’m focusing on getting my kids dressed and out the door into the cool air conditioned car, I don’t focus on the mess they’ve left behind. Instead, I get them buckled up, get their movie turned on and lock the doors of the car so I can run back inside and pick up their cups and their toys. It takes me a solid minute and it makes me feel immensely better. One thing at a time.
Make a list
When I can’t see what I have to do, I feel overwhelmed. However, when I can see what I have left to do, it seems so much more doable. Never underestimate the power of crossing even the smallest to-do off a list. It makes me feel so much more productive and capable it is not even funny.
Get ready ahead of time
I get up at 5 am every morning to work for a while, shower, enjoy my coffee and work some more before I get myself ready. I usually start my hair and makeup routine at 7:30. My kids don’t usually wake up until 8. Right now we have to be out the door and driving to cheer camp at 7:30. It’s been a problem for me. It helps when I wake up that everyone’s clothes are already laid out in full detail, the cups are on the counter ready to fill and I’m able to get things done as quickly as possible. It helps relax me and make it all possible for me.
My husband is so good I don’t even have to delegate; he just knows. He knows to do the laundry if it’s there, to clean up as he goes and that I like the floors cleaned every night after the kids go to bed. He knows what I like and how to make me happy. He also knows when I’m having an overwhelming morning when he calls to check in on us and say good morning to the kids. He will then ask me what he can do, and I usually delegate things he can do online, by calling or at work for me so that I don’t have to worry about it anymore. It’s so nice to have that.
Stop and quit
Sometimes I just can’t. I really just can’t. When I recognize myself snapping over things that aren’t important, being rude and just not handling things very well, I throw in the towel and walk away. I’ll call my husband and tell him I can’t, and he will fix it. He will call a grandparent for me to relieve me for the day. He will book a spa day for me, send me flowers or plan a date night for that night. He will get home, send me out the door and tell me to go out and have some fun for myself and not come home until I’m better. He knows, too, when I’m overwhelmed, and he knows how to handle it if I don’t do it quickly enough.
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