Sometimes I feel like I really have no clue what I am doing when it comes to parenting. I think that I still hinder myself by the fact that I was an active alcoholic for much of my life and I feel like the life lessons that I was supposed to learn, I just didn’t. But I have to quickly remember that all of these “problems” are also my gifts of sobriety; I would never have all this to complain about if I was not sober today! So, I just need to get my big-girl britches on, and keep trudging!
My kids are awesome and the best kids in the world! But I am sure I am very bias with that statement! Nevertheless they are still kids and are all in different stages of their lives; the two year old is working hard on his vocabulary and building sentences as well as potty training, the five year old has just started kindergarten and is learning how to read and write, and my 11 year old is excited about the new year of the drama club and girl scouts. I absolutely love watching them grow and develop!
But parenting is hard, period. One of the reasons that alcohol appealed to me so much was because I thought that it made me calm and relaxed. With a couple of drinks in me I thought that I could get through any stressful situation. Things didn’t seem to aggravate me so much and I was able to just sort of float by. But all that was fine and dandy for a little bit, but then it all went down the hill and I was actually more aggravated and stressed out in the end.
Stress can come from many places, but for me the majority comes from parenting. Unlike work let’s say, where I know what I am supposed to be doing, (at least most of the time) parenting has me all confused! I have three kids and they are all in different growth stages of their life; the two-year old is tantrum city, the 5-year-old is demanding and seems to do everything exactly the opposite way of what you ask him, and the 11-year-old daughter… well lets just say she is very moody! So trying to manage 3 different ages can be challenging to say the least!
So, here I am… how the heck do I parent, stay sober and survive it all?!
The cool thing is that some of the same tools that have helped me stay sober are the same tools that are now helping me with parenting. Here is a few:
Get a good night’s sleep
YES! Top of the list! This is huge both for sobriety and managing stress. I know sleep seems like a privilege especially when you have little kids, but sleep is also absolutely the most important. The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. And prolonged lack of good sleep can cause havoc on your system, your attitude and your overall well-being. So when the choice is to do another load of laundry or sleep, I choose sleep!
Take stress breaks
When I was first getting sober I had to take some stress breaks because I often found myself stressing about the traffic, the weather and other things that I had no control over. I don’t worry about those anymore, but I can’t possibly avoid all the stress. So, now I take little Mommy time outs, which for me are usually in the bathroom. Giving myself permission to take a stress break is often enough to decompress or just give a new perspective and avoid getting out of control.
Find support from other parents
Just like in early sobriety it was absolutely crucial that I could find people to relate to, hearing what other parents go through and how they deal with their children helps me feel optimistic, and it helps me gather new methods of dealing with kid issues. It also helps to know that other kids seem to do the same funny, or not so funny things, and that my kid’s behavior is not completely crazy.
Staying calm and level-headed
Stress often mounts at predictable times at my house, such as in the morning, at that dinner time and at bed time. When I prepare myself during these times and anticipate the chaos I am able to manage it better. This time is predictable so I really focus on staying calm. If I stay calm and my voice is pleasant and leveled it is easier to get the kids to listen and follow direction.
Take time to decompress
By the time I go to bed I am usually exhausted! But I read it somewhere that deep abdominal breathing, meditation, and prayer are proven to help moderate stress and help the body relax. So I have made a point to practice one of these every night. Even if I can only do 5 or 10 minutes of any one of those a night, I have an easier time falling asleep and sleeping better, as well as being better prepared for the day ahead.
I don’t always remember or am able to do all these things. If I had to choose two most important ones it would be sleep and taking the stress breaks. I am also working on making these into habits so they just become second nature.
Do you have any great techniques that help you with stress? Please share in the comments.
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