Stress IN THE HOME
There’s a saying: “Home is where the heart is.” In general, home is a refuge. Everyone wants long to come home for some sense of comfort… for some peace and quiet.
It feels good, of course, to be in the company of loved ones. It’s reassuring to have s sympathetic listening ear to unload one’s troubles to. Perhaps there’s no safer place than home.
But that’s as far as the ideal picture of home goes. To parents with little children, the home environment can be the exact opposite of how it’s generally held to be. There are the usual stress bedtime battles and picky eating.
Yes, stress is very much part of many homes. Teenagers want to be let alone. And there’s always fighting over who shall have the TV remote.
Such scenarios can be very stressful for parents, who themselves are already quite worn out from work. At the end of the day when everybody comes home, it can be so frustrating for officetired parents to have to put up with the mischiefs and tantrums of the little ones. Tensions can rise.
What parents may not realize is that their frustrations can impact their children’s own stress levels. Before long, the supposedly peaceful home is filled with shouting, meltdowns, and one-word answers. What can be done about this situation?
While it may be long shot to rid the home completely of stress, there are ways to minimize it. Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow, in an article at www. parents.com, shares ways by which parents can tell if the family is overly stressed, as well as advice on what can be done about it:
No one is sleeping.
When your stress levels are at an all-time high, sleep is one of the first casualties. And lack of sleep can make you crankier, anxious, and, yes, more stressed. If you and your family are feeling the strain, try putting the kids and yourself to bed a half hour earlier.
There’s more yelling at each other. Use your ears – oftentimes the more stressed we feel, the more we yell and fuss. Softening your own voice can help bring down the volume, as can taking a time out together. You can say, “Mommy needs this, and we’re going to lie here and hug and take deep breaths and start over.” It’s just as much for you as it is for the little ones.
Family dinners are cut down. Sad truth: When parents are stressed-out and cranky, their older kids may skip out on mealtime to avoid talking to them. To make dinner more enjoyable again, everyone may write down something positive they observed about another family member and drop it in a basket in the middle of the table. During meals, Mom or Dad – or a kid at a time – can pull from the socalled “compliment basket” and read the observations aloud. It can help kids look forward to meal time, and it’s a great way to give praise for specific things, which is better than general praise.
The child is withdrawing.
During times of high stress, some children shut themselves off from others. Older kids might lock themselves in their room more, for example, while younger ones may stop asking to have play-dates with friends. If this sounds familiar, the parents shall talk to their kids, and talk some more and keep talking.
The conversation shall be kept open. Parents shall calmly solicit ideas from the kids on how they may improve certain things at home. The kids shall feel like they have the power to find solutions to their own complaints.
Parents struggle at work.
When working parents begin to be sloppy at work, stress may be the culprit, as it robs them of their ability to concentrate and stay organized. Experts recommend identifying the biggest pain points, and brainstorming solutions between the spouses. If getting out the door in the morning is hard, for example, parents may want to do more preparation the night before for the next morning.
Everyone is under the weather. No matter the age, chronic stress can take a toll on the body. Younger children may complain about stomach aches and nightmares, while teens often get headaches, and adults typically feel stress in the neck, shoulders, and back. Everyone also experiences sleep issues, and even a lowered immune system.
Parents and the kids are running around – all the time. Rushing from one afterschool activity to the next can make the family feel anxious, which in turn can cause muscle tension, headaches, stomach aches, and host of other not-so-pleasant issues. If parents find themselves feeling overstressed in the moment, they may try hitting the pause button. Say, the family is running around like crazy because they’ll be late to a sporting event and can’t find a kid’s cleats. Everyone shall stop what they’re doing, and take 10 deep breaths. It’s better to arrive a few minutes late with everything ready than to not be able to play because the child doesn’t have all of his equipment.
It takes concerted effort to strike a balance in the home life. If anyone in the family is observed to be doing too much of anything, parents may have to question if that is healthy. Everyone needs a down time, at some time.