We have a goal in our house that we don't cry over spilled milk unless it's the 4th cup spilled that day. Some days we cry when it's the first. With 4 kids in the house, there is always something happening and a good chance there's an argument. My daughter literally told on her sister for looking at her last week. Yes, she actually said, "Mom, she keeps looking at me." Sigh.
Though I wouldn't change it for the world, it's easy to get caught up in everything going wrong and feel down. After much research and trying things out on my own. Here are 7 habits less-stressed parents have:
- Laughter. We watch funny YouTube videos, laugh at ourselves and each other (in light-hearted ways) and when we feel like our household is falling apart, we laugh.
- Activity. Sure there are nights where we sit in front of the TV and enjoy a movie as a family, but a lot of the time we're hiking, throwing a football around or some other outdoor activity.
- Nutrition. Again, yes, we love ice cream after a meal, but most meals are homemade and balanced. There are fabulous 30 minute or less meals available on Pinterest. If we're really honest with ourselves, it takes at least 30 minutes to drive to a restaurant, order food, get it and drive home. Some nights that feels much easier, but most nights, we're making dinner.
- Hobbies. This is a little controversial. My husband and I love our children, but we also have activities and interests outside of them. We include our kids in those activities whenever possible, but we also don't push it. We all have our passions and we share them with each other. When they don't want to be involved, that gives us some much-needed grown-up time doing something we love.
- Date nights. I know that a lot of parents don't want to leave kids with a babysitter, but I think a night apart does a lot of good. Not only do you get to get through a meal with your spouse without interruption, but your children get to do things you may not have let them do (think dessert before dinner, staying up late and watching TV in their underwear). It's fun for all.
- Chore day. My husband would argue this does not reduce stress, it increases it, but I disagree. We have 1 day in a weekend where everyone picks a chore and we do it. It doesn't last the whole day, maybe a couple of hours (if the kids really take it slow). If we all work together, it goes faster and we don't have to stress over just how dirty our house is. We have a plan in place.
- Guilt-free zone. OK, we're still working on this one. Our daughters came home from school with DYB written all over folders and notebooks and papers. I asked what this was and they said it meant, "Do Your Best." I like this. If we go into everyday with our families doing our best in that moment, we have nothing to feel guilty about. If our best in that moment was less than stellar, then we were having a bad moment. We let go and move on.
What works in your house to reduce stress? Comment below and tell us what works for you.
Karen Becker is an author, speaker and family coach. She has a Master's Degree in Counseling and applies these skills when coaching clients. She has years of experience coaching clients in all areas of life: parenting, co-parenting after divorce and in personal growth/wellness. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.