I used to always feel stressed. I worked 40+ hours a week, I have 3 kids, (one of which has a lot of doctor’s appts), a husband, and an elderly dog who is approaching toddler status with her frequent accidents. I used to take my work home daily and struggle between spending time with the fam and getting my job done. I would get home from work and rush through dinner, homework, bedtime, all in a hurry to lay in bed and watch TV until I crashed and could do it again the next day. Aaaaaaand I still do. The big difference between the “then” and the “now” for me is that I’ve started asking myself, “Is this my battle? Is this the hill I wish to die upon today? Is this what will make or break me for the day?” And some days, it is. It is my battle. It is the thing I’m going to choose to fight about, it is my breaking point. Most days? Not so much. And my stress level has gone down a lot because of it (well, that and anti-anxiety meds…)
I’ve also started mentally categorizing things to help determine if they’re a non-negotiable or if I can let them slide. Attitude toward parents, siblings, etc. for example is a non-negotiable. We’ll deal with that right then and there. At work, we have a saying that “health and safety are non-negotiable” so I’ve also adopted that one at home, too. But as my kids are growing and coming into their own identities, there is also a point where I have to give them freedom to explore, freedom to fail, and freedom to express themselves, even if it makes me cringe. As of late, this includes walking the dog without me and trusting that they won’t be crossing streets and will be courteous and pick up the poop (complete with a lot of arguing and complaining). It also has included letting them choose their outfits and hairstyles.
The other day, they ran through the sprinklers fully clothed. They drank full-sized blue-ice-drink-things from the gas station in the middle of the afternoon. One night about a month ago, they had ice cream for dinner. These were things that I clearly had enabled but had to consciously think, “If I say no, why am I saying no? Will it hurt them if I say yes? Will it make us all happy? Is it a treat, a reward, a once in awhile thing, and in general, why not?”
There have been days when I’ve thought that I couldn’t go on because I was so tired, I was so stressed, I was just too exhausted, and those have turned into some of the best days because I let loose a little and gave the kids a bit more control in their decisions. When one kid came downstairs covered in approximately 42 temporary tattoos, I only made him remove the ones on his face (eyelid tattoos aren’t my favorite) and complimented his newly tatted body. When my kid packed his own lunch (yay, independence!) and it ended with 2 pieces of ham, approximately 64 pieces of cheese and gummies, I just rolled with it, giving him an extra helping of veggies at dinner. When one of my girls came home from a sleepover in which they did makeup then slept in it and didn’t wipe it off, I helped her look less like a woman of the night and more like a little girl who had just snuck into mom’s makeup…and out we went to breakfast. Mohawk for summer camp? Why not. Shark costume to a princess sleepover? Absolutely. Not sitting in your car seat? Sit your butt down, buckle up in your seat and quick arguing, because momma is still in charge here, kiddos. But yes, you look fabulous.