This week a friend asked what mommies in general do to handle day-to-day stress. And that’s an easy enough question. So, seeing as how I’m pretty good at putting off real life in order to relax and deal with everyday stress, I’m weighing in. I’ll leave out "drinking excessively" and "smoking crack like it’s going out of style", since that’s probably not what she was thinking. And I’m pretty sure I’d get my kids taken away.
- Exercise! Exercise is vital to a mommy’s mental well-being. At least, that is what I’m told. I like the idea of it. For a while I tried it myself. And it gave me a sense of peace, a "high", if you will. Recently, cold rainy weather, soccer practice, band competitions, and chaos in general have made finding the time to fit in said exercise nearly impossible. So I’m thinking of trying something else in order to squeeze out as much stress relief as I can given my situation: I’m going to make the kids run laps. Around the neighborhood. Merrick included. This plan is sure to bring on hungry children (who will eat anything I cook without complaining) and early bedtimes (they won’t be able to keep their eyes open after 7:00!), thus securing no less than 3 hours of mommy-time at the end of every. Single. Day.
- Mommy-time! This junk is important, too. Around my house we are all about it! And let me tell you, there’s nothing better than getting a long hot shower, watching "Wolverine" on pay-per-view, and getting a long cold shower, all the while knowing your children are sleeping soundly in their beds. Even if I have to threaten to take away every toy they hold dear should they venture out of their rooms for so much as a glass of water, those hours between 7:00 and 10:00 belong to me and me only, and maybe Caleb if he brings a popcorn offering.
- Coffee! Coffee is absolutely essential, especially on those mornings–well, not those mornings–all mornings, really–when the kids seem to leap out of bed screeching for banana-nut cheerios on the couch with orange juice and the soft side of the fuzzy pink-polka dot blanket and a fire in the fireplace and could you turn on Curious George and oops I spilled my cereal and I have nowhere to set my orange juice down and oops I just spilled that too.
- Coffee! With real sugar and real milk. The stronger, the better.
- Coffee! It is a valuable tool in dealing with day-to-day-to-day stress. Drink it before exercising! Drink it before bedtime! Drink it in the car! Drink it in the bathtub! Drink it! Just Drink It!
- Singing. I sing at the top of my lungs. All the time. Whatever song I feel like. Everyday has a different vibe. Sometimes it’s Smokey Robinson. Sometimes it’s Allison Krauss. And sometimes, like today, it’s Miley Cyrus’s "Party in the USA". I’m not proud of that, but in my defense, it’s catchy. And Merrick freakin’ loves it. We sang until we were hoarse. And it…felt awesome.
- Obviously, this blog. I just love to write, writing’s my favorite.
- Painting is a tremendous stress relief for me. I can get really absorbed in my painting. But since dragging out the materials and setting up takes more time than actually finishing a painting, I don’t do it as often as I would like. Which brings me to my next point:
- Cleaning. Just don’t do it. I mean, clean what is neccessary to keep your piece of mind, but beyond that, just let it go. For instance, in my house, I would have to sweep literally–NO, LITERALLY–every 10 minutes to keep all the dog hair from piling up and joining forces and becoming one giant talking dog. But since I am 1) Lazy and 2) Not entirely insane, I sweep only twice a day. My floors? Are admittedly disgusting. But I find that if I take my contacts out and stare at the ceiling, I don’t even notice the dog hair. I can even trick myself into thinking we have carpet. The clothes in the washer will not start mildewing for another 2 hours…or so. Go out and get some of that exercise that everyone talks about.
- That said, I’m not a fan of clutter. It makes me uneasy. What I like to do–rather than organize–is just get rid of everything, ideally before it even gets a chance to pile up. Goodwill loves me, and what they won’t take, I trash. Why? Because I’m not about to knowingly stress myself out by organizing (there’s that word again) a garage sale. I only keep the most important school papers and only the finest artistic achievements–but I am not completely heartless. I keep the things the kids are most proud of, plus all the sappy hand-printed construction-paper cards they make me, because I know when I’m like 80, I’ll want to bust them out as proof of my motherly love and devotion if in the event they try to place me in a crummy nursing home…or lock me in a basement. Or sell me into sex slavery in Mexico. I only throw away the scribbles of a 7-legged purple cat–when the kids aren’t looking.
- There is this guy who hangs out around the house sometimes–he’s sort of cool to talk to every now and then. He’s a bit of a pyro and when the wind is not blowing too hard (approximately 9 random days out of the year), he’ll build a big honkin’ fire in the backyard and he’ll set the stage: reclining lawn chairs, blankets, and music–‘cuz we’re redneck like that. After the kids are in bed, we turn on the baby monitor and we kick back and make each other laugh. Or not. But whatever we do, it always relieves a great deal of stress…
- Buuuut since he’s not here tonight, "Wolverine" on pay-per-view will have to do.