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of less. She believes the new activity will renew her, and reduce her tiredness. Huh? What wacko came up with that idea? I mean it even sounds stupid? Seriously, if you're already tired, adding more to your plate isn't going to re-energize you. It's not like adding a Red Bull to vodka! So why do women do it? Why do they all say, "When I relax, I feel so guilty?" Men don't use this approach. I mean, really, when was the last time a man looked at you with sleep-deprived eyes and said, "You stay in bed honey, it's my turn. I know you've had a long day. I'll go warm the bottle, feed the baby, change him, rock him and get him back to sleep. In fact, I'll get the coffee pot ready for in the morning and iron my shirt so don't you worry about it. That way you can sleep in sweetie?" Yeah, as if! If they're like my husband, they don't ever feel guilty for relaxing. My man can sleep through the night- all night- oblivious to the childrens nightmares. He doesn't hear the pitter-patter of little feet at the edge of our bed crying, "Mommy, Mommy, my bed is all wet!" (Notice- even at their tender young age, they know which name to cry out in the after-hours.) He'd never hear them! He slept through a stage 4 hurricane three years ago! We had an 18 month old and a newborn- he never even budged! My husband that is, not the kids. We were up all night shaking like a leaf! It's amazing how a man can wake up after a good 8 hours or more of sleep and be refreshed. They then go off to their jobs and, at most, work 10 to 12 hours and get to socialize with other adults, in a semi-normal environment- (i.e.- no temper tantrums, diaper changing, or biting episodes generally occur at a man's workplace.) They then come home to the delightful cheering of their kids, feeling like a Rock Star. The men receive a hero's welcome when they return. The delightful tune of "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy's home!" echoes across the foyer as the Prince returns to his castle. If you're the wife, though, you're lucky if you get a peck on the cheek, a quick nod, or some other gesture that signifies they know you're around. They then grab a beer, pick up the remote, kick their feet up in the recliner and breathe a long sigh. Then...the 3 little words you've waited for all day are spoken... "What's for Dinner?" Oh, don't you just want to kill him? Of course you've had time to prepare dinner- in between nursing, washing, diaper changes, toilet-training, feeding, clothing, more buttwiping, nail clippings, hair combing, and somewhere in between all that you managed the grocery shopping, the house cleaning, paying the bills, picking up the dry-cleaning and buying your mother-in-law a birthday present from her devoted son, and then mailing it after signing his name to it! Yes the list goes on and on. And you haven't even had a shower all day and it's already 6pm. Well, do you know what happens to the woman trying to be Supermom? On 3 Hours of very interrupted sleep? She gets Stressed out!
Some symptoms stress can cause in women mothering young children are exhaustion, sluggishness, irritability, depression and impatience. Does any of this sound like something you would want to list as qualities on your resume? Because surely this was a job we felt qualified to do when we signed up to be a mother, right? Wrong! I didn't sign up for this. See, moms are never off-duty. We work 24 hours a day with no vacations, paid holidays or normal benefits. "Moms of pre-schoolers are said to be the most exhausted, fatigued and worn-out strata of our society. Functioning on little sleep, unbalanced nutrition, little exercise and frazzled nerves..."(from "What Every Mom Needs" by Elissa Margaret and Carol Kuykendall). So what are some ways you can stop having the very life sucked out of you? One way is to realize you can not take care of others if you're not healthy yourself- this means mentally and physically. It's not selfish to look out for number one in this case. It's selfpreservation. As the saying goes, "If momma ain't happy, nobody's happy." So what do we do? What are some easy ways to alleviate stress while still living in the same home, with the same children and the same husband? Yes, the idea here is to help change you- Not hire a nanny, run off with the pool boy and forget your last name! This is real life. And unless you're living in a Danielle Steel novel, we must learn to deal with the life we've chosen - the grass is not always greener on the other side, especially if you have to mow it. Take it from me, I do the housework and the landscaping. So let's deal with the obvious and start looking at life with a new positive goal in mind. One goal needs to be to learn to laugh more. Laughing is proven to ease strain and relieve tension. It's even been said we're happier, saner, and even more physically fit when we laugh. I tested that philosophy on every level when I last went to the gym. I laughed at myself trying to get more physically fit but I never even left the dressing room. I must have been insane because I was trying to fit into my lycra running pants (pre-pregnancy size, of course), and my old sports bra (the cute perky size C cups), when I literally peed all over myself. My poor chest size had shriveled to an A minus! There was no perk in them, and after all that milking, I mean nursing, I was left with two children that should grow up to be linebackers, but left with a chest that looks like pancakes with a cherry on top. I swear, I just started laughing hysterically. My breasts were the flattest thing on my body. I had rolls bulging from above and below the sports bra. From under my arms, behind my back, and over my backyard. But there' wasn't a roll to be found in my bra. Anyway, with that visual in your mind, picture me looking at myself in the gym mirror. I'm standing there surrounded by Barbie wanna-bees in tight thongs, silicone breasts, and legs the size of my pinkie finger. But my reflection looked more like a rabid Sharpeii hiding in my underwear and trying it's best to squeeze out of my spandex waistband before it died of strangulation. And for all you moms of the Disney era, I'm not talking about the skinny toothpick Sharpay on High School musical here. I'm talking about the fat Chinese dog with all the wrinkles! Now, that was ugly. But it was laughable. But my bladder control after delivering two babies, wasn't. I couldn't make it out of that dressing room quick enough. I left my puddle, my spandex, and my dignity behind. See laughter
can be good! And according to some more medical studies, it's even said to exercise the abdomen, improve muscle tone and increase circulation. Heavy laughter several times a day can have the benefits of 10 minutes of vigorous exercise. That's great since I never made it to the workout machines. And as my husband likes to point out, nightly... the last time I had ten minutes of "vigorous exercise," I found myself pulling out a pregnancy stick two weeks later. (His kind way of letting me know we haven't had sex in...forever, or at least since the kids were born.) But that just brings me to my next way to relieve stress. Good old fashioned sex. Yes, intimacy, a feeling of connectedness, which allows you to receive close physical contact that recognizes you for a woman, and not just a mom. These are all natural needs. And these needs when filled, (even when it's the last possible thing you want to add to your To-Do list), will release endorphins, help reconnect you and your partner, and if you're lucky, have mind-blowing, orgasmic repercussions. Seriously, sex is a great tool for stress-relief, and it may be just the vehicle you need to get your husband out of that recliner. Which leads me to the next tip- Ask for Help! You can only do so much by yourself. Now don't try to prove me wrong here. Don't go out and have 8 babies on top of your 6 already just to prove you can do it all! No, no, no! Don't try to be a Superstar Mom. This isn't Kate plus 8 or Octo-mom. This is reality. I'm speaking of normal happenings in an everyday life that occur in most average households with a mom and kids. Many activities are always taking place. The help I'm referring to here isn't welfare or paparazzi publications. I'm talking about genuine help that comes from admitting that raising children is hard, and it's easier when it can be shared. Shared by your partner, your family, your friends and your neighbors! You are not Superwoman! Believing you are creates a very tired, angry, resentful, and ultimately unhappy mom. A stressed-out mom! Raising children is difficult, plain and simple. So why does it seem that asking for help seems even harder? Why do moms feel like it's the same as admitting they're failures? Even Jesus had disciples! My answer to you is - Get over it! Unless you're Angelinacomplete with a couple of nannies, a housekeeper, a secretary, a personal cook, a fitness trainer and a fashion coordinator, then you're going to have to ask for help sometimes! Accept it. I know it's hard. I've learned it firsthand. Several weeks ago I went to my yearly gynecological exam. My normal doctor, who is female, wasn't available. So while my two little ones are watching me lie there naked in stirrups, a man who isn't their father walked in. They looked a bit shocked, but said nothing. The exam began and my daughters were secretly watching, even though I had asked them to sit behind the wall where the changing area was. Then to my horror, while he was doing his probe, my 4 year old piped up innocently, "momma, why is that man sticking his finger in your privates?" Well, I had my own questions to answer at that point. Like, "Why didn't I just let the neighbor watch them when she offered?" She knew I had a doctor's appointment, and she said it would be her pleasure. But what did I say? I said, "Oh no, they'll be fine. They go with me everywhere, really, it's no big deal. Thanks anyway." Yada Yada Yada. What was I trying to prove? Who was I trying to impress?
Why was I so proud? Of course hindsight really is 20/20. And though I doubt they'll have any psychological damage from witnessing this at 3 and 4 years of age, I'll have a hard time explaining it around the family Christmas table should it ever come up in dinner conversation. Oh yeah, I can see it now, "Hey maw-maw, do you go to the doctor where a man gets to stick...?" Agghh! Don't worry, I'll save that for my next article, titled "How to deal with Stress during the holidays". Anyway, I hope my point here is made. We all need to acknowledge the fact that accepting help is a useful tool in reducing stress. Whether the help be in the form of babysitting, dinner, carpools, housework, or just a listening ear, we need to be able to ask for assistance. It makes you more approachable and is a good teaching tool for your children as well. There's something I read once that said a mother who does it all develops a child who can't do anything. O.K, if simple things like laughter, sex, and accepting a little help can reduce major stress-causing symptoms like anxiety, fatigue, depression, and resentment, what are you waiting for? It's not like I'm telling you to go run 3 miles a day or change your diet! These are easy, fun, tried and true ways to help you cope with the daily stress you're dealing with as a mother. What are you waiting for? Take your kids to a babysitter (or Grandmaw's house), pull down the sheets, pop a comedy in the DVD player, and snuggle up with your husband for some alone time. Chill out, laugh, and maybe even get frisky under the covers. Now doesn't that sound like an interesting way to relieve stress? I bet you thought this article was going to include tips like exercise, changing your diet, volunteering, or meditation techniques. Sorry, not my style baby! My advice is to just enjoy what you've got, take it one day at a time and count your blessings. It will all pass way too quickly. Like we always hear, "They'll be all grown up before you know it." Don't miss the ride!
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