Twelve Step Program for the Stressed-Out Homeschool Mom
- Terri Camp Home school author and mother
- 2003 13 Jan
Today, while talking in a chat room with Karen, she gave me the idea for this column. You see, Karen was having a bad day. It was the first day back to "school" with her boys and things were not going according to plan. The children were fighting, not really wanting to do their work, and Karen was having a difficult time dealing with it all. She ventured into a homeschool chat room hoping to get some help for her struggles.
My advice to Karen was to yell at her children to "KNOCKITOFF!"
Before you all e-mail me telling me how horrible I was to tell someone to yell at her children, I am not a proponent of yelling at children to reduce your stress.
But I am convinced that laughing will reduce your stress. She laughed, which helped to reduce her stress. As we talked though, I did begin to think of several ways for homeschool moms to reduce their stress during the day. I would like to include some of my favorites.
I guess I should put in a disclaimer that I am not a psychologist. I have never had psychological training, unless you count being sent to them as a child. And the only credentials I have are the initials that can follow my name, Terri S. Camp Mo.M. (Masters of Motherhood).
One of the things I've noticed with myself is that rather than dealing with my stress, I continue to try to push through it, which ends up feeling more like pushing past my own limits. I'm learning to try to notice that my stress level is getting beyond my comfort zone, and to take appropriate actions.
The number one most important thing for me is to find some chocolate in my house and consume it. Now, I don't need a large amount of chocolate, I just need a little bit. It's always a good idea to have a ready supply hidden away in a cupboard somewhere.
I often wondered why I would enjoy a little piece of chocolate now and then when I was feeling stressed and have actually discovered it has important health properties that are especially good for women. Just don't eat the whole bag! So, grab yourself a little kiss, and the day might just go a little smoother for you.
My number two item on my list is food. I often tend to forget to eat. When I'm feeling myself getting extremely stressed, I can usually see that it's 3:00 in the afternoon and I haven't eaten anything today. I try to avoid this, but like I said, sometimes I simply forget.
Another quick stress reducer for me is to walk into my bathroom, rummage through my make up case, find my favorite bottle of perfume, and give myself a little squirt. This almost always perks me up. Many of us don't realize the importance of keeping our olfactory glands satisfied. Perhaps for you a great stress reliever is to light a candle?
Excercise is another good stress reducer. If the kids are antsy, not doing their school work as well, send them outside to run around the house! While they are doing that, maybe you can grab a 10 to 20 minute jog on your treadmill. You do know how funny it looks for people to walk on a treadmill don't you? Laugh at yourself, but get on it anyway.
While you're on the treadmill be sure to put some great praise music on your stereo or head phones. If we would remember to schedule "praise time" into our daily routines, we would all be a lot happier.
When you're not stressed, take some time to think about the things that really make you "lose it." Try to focus on those things and see what you could possibly do about them.
Perhaps you get more stressed when you keep getting phone calls? There is a simple answer for that one, turn on the answering machine! If you can't bear listening to a ringing phone, turn off the ringer.
If you work at a home based business, perhaps you need to set some hours of operation?
One of the things that bothers me the most is when the kids make a mess in a place that I recently cleaned. I've had to give up ownership of all clean places in my house. That floor I just cleaned is not mine. The counter top is not mine. The bathroom is not mine.
If I give up ownership, then it's not as stressful to me when someone walks in with muddy feet across the kitchen floor. Unlike when I own the kitchen floor, my mouth will suddenly scream, "Why are you walking across MY clean floor?" When ownership has been eliminated, I can calmly say, "GET OUTSIDE!" Okay, maybe that doesn't work. But you might try it anyway.
Sometimes we can cause more stress when we're reducing stress. One great stress reducer for me is to be able to commiserate with a friend. It works great for about 15 minutes, but if I end up talking for an hour and a half, I am then so far behind schedule that I feel like a failure. I need to find a good balance in that area.
Having a schedule is a great way to reduce stress too. If you have a clean up schedule, then you know that even though you're walking over Lego's now, you won't be in three hours. That should help a bit.
If your kids are like mine, they sometimes get into moods with each other when they are bickering a lot. I've found a great cure for that. I will tell the oldest child in the bickering group, "Okay, I'll arm wrestle you. If I lose, then you have to stop fighting with each other." Sometimes all the kids need is a little fun diversion.
Sometimes all Mom needs is a little fun diversion. When was the last time you went out with your husband? Don't wait for him to plan it. Get on the phone, hire a sitter, and go drive through Burger King! If you really want to splurge, go walk around Wal Mart and dream of redecorating the house.
And finally, when the kids are really driving you crazy, bring out the ice cream and have a party!
In addition to devoting herself to her husband and the eight children she home schools, Terri also enjoys writing and speaking to offer encouragement to women in an effervescent, humorous way. Visit her Web site at www.ignitethefire.com or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.