With three kids in the house, I am constantly throwing out phrases like “Read a book!”, “Snacks should be fruits or veggies, not junk!”, and “Pick that up! Don’t just walk over it!”. Most of the time, these suggestions get drowned out by all the noise in the house, and even if the kids do hear me, they just big fat ignore me. Those things aren’t fun; the alternatives are much more appealing.
Between a long holiday break and extra cold weather, we spent a lot of time at home; with our busy schedules, this is unusual. It was nice to not be rushing around on our crazy paths, but I allowed us all to get a little lazy. I told myself we were relaxing. Now I’m paying for it.
Our kids don’t have the latest, snazziest electronics; partly because we don’t want to pay for it, and partly because they are all under ten years old and just don’t need it. However, we do have some gadgets, and they are easily sucked into them. This is where the “Read a book!” suggestion came into play. Actually, it was more like “Read. A. BOOK!!”, especially after they started fighting over whose turn it was to play on whatever tech-y toy had their attention that day. That was my solution. Put away the gadget, get a book, and be quiet. Easy enough, right? Only, it never worked out that way. They may have read for a while, but later they were back at it. The days were long, so in the end, they enjoyed more screen time than they typically get.
Being stuck in the house also led to mindless munching, so they heard “Snacks should be fruits or veggies, not junk!” quite a bit, as well. It was Christmastime, though, so there was a LOT of extra candy and other sweets around, and we all indulged a bit too much. See above about the days being long, as it applies to this as well.
As for “Pick that up! Don’t just walk over it!”…well, they probably hear that (or some version of it) at least once a day, holiday break or not. It makes me crazy when a kid walks on top of something (piece of paper, Hot Wheels car, each other…) but does not stop to pick it up. I don’t care who put it there; if you see it, fix it! I suppose I’ll be battling that one for many years to come.
Today, as I heard myself spouting off one of these, it struck me: when was the last time I listened to myself and set an example? It was one of those light bulb moments: why don’t I follow my own advice?
Being a mother of a child with special needs is stressful. Being a mother, or father, of anybody is stressful. I have allowed myself to slack off, big time, and just write if off as dealing with stress. “Sure, I can eat those Hostess cupcakes. Today totally sucked.”, or “I’ll just play five…or 15…more rounds of Candy Crush, because I need to clear my head.”, or, “Hey, I’ll just clean off my desk tomorrow, because I really need to just sit and eat cupcakes and play Candy Crush.”
I’m not saying that nobody should ever do any of these things; I’m not here to tell anyone how to handle stress. But for me, it’s gone on for a long time, and maybe, just maybe I’ve inadvertently taught the kids that this is appropriate, every day behavior. Something to think about, at least.
So, how should I be dealing with stress? Honestly, I don’t know. I have a gym membership, and enjoy going to the gym, but I have to do it around everyone else’s schedules. I love to read, but at the end of the day, I’m exhausted and know that if I open a book, I could be up all night (I easily get whisked into a good story and insist on finishing it…). I know that the diets of everyone in this house need to improve (we need to cut more processed foods out…it’s a tough process!), but it’s so much easier (and cheaper!) to stay in our regular routines (Taco Tuesday, anyone?).
I do know this: if I started listening to myself and doing what I advise of my kids, then maybe they would take notice. If nothing else, I would be dealing with stress in a much healthier way. Maybe that’s all the reason I need.