Toddlers and Stress Relief. Yes. Stress Relief.

So this last six months have been rather rough. The transition back to work was not what I expected. Audrey transitioned just fine- she loves her day home. And despite what about a million people assumed and asked me about, the challenge wasn’t that I wanted to be at home rather then at work. I was quite happy to recharge my mommy batteries by having some time doing something different for 8 hours of the day. Yes, I miss her when she is at the day home, but it is good for both of us.

The challenge was in adjusting to trying to do it all. Work a full time job, keep the house clean, meals on the table, walk the dog, find fun things for us to do on the weekend, and still find time for me. (Yes, I am not alone. Husband does all that stuff too. But it is still a lot of work for two people who are both also working full time.) Not to mention that I was going through a good, but some what stressful, job role transition at work. (My promotion is officially official, but I am still kinda doing 1 and 1/2 jobs.)

Anyway. I won’t go on. Suffice to say that for the last 6 months or so I have been rather wrapped up in just getting it all done. Or trying to anyway. What does this have to do with my toddler? Well, I am sad to admit it, but it means there have been many times when I see her antics as adding more stress rather then less. I haven’t really enjoyed taking care with her; it seems more like just an other thing on my plate. That sounds horrible, doesn’t it? I mean, you all know I love the little monkey. But let’s be honest- taking care of a toddler is rarely easy. Even when they are amazingly fun one minute, the go into full on tantrum the next. It’s not their fault- just so many changes in their little brains- I can imagine it is rather disorienting.

The pressures of life, the stuff we need to get done, and the tendency for toddlers to be little trouble makers with wildly varying emotions- these are all recipes for more stress, not less.

But.

I discovered something the other day. I got home after a very frustrating day where I had to apologize repeatably for things I didn’t do and spend most of the day trying to put out various fires. I was frustrated and grumpy. I was sitting with Audrey while husband was making up her dinner. I am not sure how it started. I think Audrey shook her head at me. So I shook my head back. *Giggle.* Then she stamped her feet. So I got up and stamped my feet. *Giggle Giggle.* Then she waved her arms around. So I did too. *GIGGLE.* Before long we were both doing some kind of weird toddler dance around the living room and both laughing our heads off. Stress relief achieved.

Ever since that night I have done my absolute best to see time with my daughter as something that can relieve my stress rather then add to it. Sometimes she does still add to my stress- full on melt downs after mommy has had a bad day? Not fun. But I do find that when I focus on spending time with her, especially when I open up and be silly with her, that it does help my stress level. I mean, who doesn’t feel good after dancing around the living room like an idiot?

I have also started to try and take her to the park right when we get home. Husband walks the dog and I take Audrey to the park. Just spending 10 minutes not thinking about all the things in the house I have to do and what we are going to make for dinner makes a big difference. It forces me to focus on Audrey and enjoy my time with her. And for that I am thankful.

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9 responses to “Toddlers and Stress Relief. Yes. Stress Relief.

  1. leesis October 10, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    hey this was a good read. May I add something. I reckon toddlers show the best way to release pent up frustration too. Next time you get home and are stressed lie on your back and throw a two-year old leg kicking arm flighing screaming tanty…you’d be amazed how much release it gives you within seconds 🙂 (Oh, probably not in front of your monkey…it confuses them a bit!)

    • amoment2think October 10, 2010 at 5:40 pm

      You know- that is so true. I think we, as adults, see toddler tantrums as a lack of control and something we should discourage- but toddlers are much better then we are at letting go of tension and frustration so they can move on with their day. Something we all could learn from. I think I might try this!!

  2. clara October 10, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I love the going out to the park idea. (And the kicking your feet, too!) We emphasize teaching transitions to our kids (10 minutes till we leave the park…ok, 5 minutes!) and forget that we are human beings and transitions can be important for us, too. Especially with the amount of stuff on your plate.

    • amoment2think October 12, 2010 at 3:07 pm

      Yes! Transitions. It is amazing what we can learn from our kids. We sometimes think that they are so different from adults and need such different things- instead of looking at it the other way around- that we could benefit too from doing some of the things we do to help them.

  3. janetlansbury October 10, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I love Audrey initiating the silly game with you, walking in the park, @leesis’ suggestion to leg kick and @clara’s advice about transitions, and I have one thought to add, even though it sounds like you already have a handle on all this… When we go to work and suddenly have less time with our child, it’s natural to want to make the more limited time we have together happy, connected “quality time”. Sometimes it will be. But I think it’s an important (and admittedly challenging) mindset to see the tantrum as quality time, too. The tantrum may be something Audrey needs and may only feel comfortable showing to you, her trusted mommy. Encouraging her to release the stress of her day, and then the hug, the closeness afterwards, are big positives for your relationship. Try to distance yourself enough to get perspective when things don’t go smoothly with her, and don’t let it ruin your day or add to your stress. Being present for whatever mood Audrey is in, giving her behavior boundaries, even when you’re tired, are what loving a child is about… When you’re able to do those things, you’ve succeeded…Pat yourself on the back, it’s all good.

  4. kelly @kellynaturally October 11, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Being a working mama is really tough! I love my work, so that makes it easier, for sure, but like you, when it comes time to try to do EVERYTHING ELSE its rough… taking kids to lessons, your house is needing cleaned and appointments need made, and dinner needs prepared… and in all of that, your children want – no – NEED your attention when you pick them up from school… its tiring. And I don’t always do it the best. But these nice days – when we can spend some time outdoors in the afternoon/evening for a little while is really a helpful transition from school/work to home.Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Ginger October 11, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    The whole working mom thing is tough. I know I’m lucky that we don’t have to do the daycare dance yet (only because it’s one less element of stress, since we don’t have to get everyone out the door in the morning or home at night), but it’s still…tough.
    That being said–amen and hallelujah to the idea of enjoying the time with your toddler! I love the hours I have with J in the evenings, even when he’s being a monster and we’re running ragged from the marathon of it all–I still try to make a point to PLAY with him at some point of the night, for both our sakes. Honestly, the belly laughs of that kid are the best stress relief I know of.

  6. Megan October 13, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    I really admire you working mamas. I know someday I will have to go back to work, and even though the prospect is partially appealing (being with grown-ups, doing work I’m proud of, etc.), I am also really dreading having to “do it all”.

    I am so glad you found a way to unwind. This is a good post to keep in mind when I want to run away from home WITHOUT my tantrumy toddler (like this morning.) I love Janet’s advice, as well. Then again, don’t I always? 😉

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