3.5 Simple Ways To Handle Stress When Your Kids Are Bouncing Off The Walls
Having kids is my favorite thing in life next to being married. Conversely, my kids can stress me out unlike anything else. It’s an odd feeling to have your greatest joy drive you crazy, but that’s what parenting can be.
When our kids are having fun, being loud, and playing, the volume or weird crazy sounds they make can grate on my nerves. But who am I to stop their fun? They’re not hurting anyone, they’re just being kids. My stress is my problem.
Additionally, the atmosphere can shift quickly in a house with little ones. Our 3-year-old can be playing quietly then decide out of nowhere to jump up, scream, and tackle our 5-year-old because the thought randomly entered his mind.
At any given moment the house can be turned upside down with toys and food all over the place simultaneously causing an unparalleled spike of stress to surge up my spine. Then the boys’ volume will wake up their sleeping baby sister, which just piles a crying infant onto the craziness.
While I still lose my cool once in awhile, I’ve gotten way better at managing these stress spikes with purpose. Here are 3.5 things I’ve tried to work into rotation before my fuse reaches its end.
1 — Daniel Tiger Counting
There’s a great episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood where he gets frustrated and his parents teach him a song. It goes, “When you feel so mad, and you wanna roar, take a deep breath (actually take one), and count to 4.” Then you count to 4.
Taking a deep breath and counting to four will typically do nothing for most grown men. We may need to count to 1,000 and take a quick walk around the block to cool off. But I’ve found that when I’m on the edge, actually singing this song out loud snaps me out of whatever minor frustration I’m in.
Singing songs written for preschoolers will put you into a different mental state.
1.5 — Peg + Cat Counting
In Peg’s quest to solve each episode’s problem she inevitably comes to a point where she says, “I am totally freaking out!” Cat comes along and gets her attention. She responds with, “Cat’s right. I should count backwards from five to calm down.” Then she counts down from five.
While not a song, this still works for me. Also, I think personally I just like Peg + Cat better than Daniel Tiger. So I use this. Sometimes when the boys are going crazy I will say out loud, “Cat’s right. I should count backwards from five to calm down,” and count down from five. In the same way as the Daniel Tiger song, actually saying this aloud snaps me out of whatever state I’m in.
Again, quoting things written for preschoolers forces you into a different mental state.
2.5 — Tell Your Kids You Need A Short Break
Honesty sometimes goes a lot further than we believe it will with our littles ones. Even at a young age they appreciate knowing what’s going on. Telling them, “Dad is having a rough day and I need a break for a couple of minutes,” often results in my kids leaving me alone for a little while.
Just know if you try this you’ll most likely be interrupted in a a little bit. Don’t allow that to send your stress levels back up. Take what they give you, enjoy it, and recenter yourself even if it’s only 60 seconds.
3.5 — Make Lunch
Usually when my kids are fighting with each other or whining or just going nuts in general, I realize they haven’t eaten in awhile (for kids “awhile” can be 90 minutes). They don’t really have that thing in them that tells them they are hangry (angry from being hungry). We need to recognize it.
This helps my stress in two ways: 1) deals with the source of stress: the kid’s hunger making them insane 2) gives me a task to focus on.
Sometimes I’ll even involve the boys in the cooking/making process. Giving them a task can often help them refocus as well.
When we put a little effort into managing our stress levels we can be the cool, collected parents our children deserve. We can also let them have the freedom to play how they want while not letting our moods impede their joy.
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