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.

The Freeman - - LIFESTYLE - By Archie Modequillo EDI­TOR: ARCHIE MODEQUILLO

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. par­, 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.

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