Managing stress

Hi. Help.

I've got way too much to do, and not enough time or energy to do it all. Some of it is awesomely fantabulous, and some of it is neutral, and some of it is remarkably odious. But it's all just too much right now.

So how do you guys manage? My coping mechanism from the last, say, 35 years–stress eating–is not serving me well. (Duh.)

I tend to be an "the only  way around it is through it" kind of person, so I don't do much self-care and just try to shove through. But that doesn't seem like a particularly healthy way of dealing with things. I think I've also got some birthday stuff going on (it's tomorrow, and I'm going to write about it tomorrow).

So, suggestions on managing stress? Or just a place to list your stress? It feels like there's an awful lot of kid sleep crap going around now, and a sad number of people who are realizing they may need to have to end their relationships.

94 thoughts on “Managing stress”

  1. I don’t know anymore. I used to run, or watch a movie that would get me to whatever emotion I needed, write lists, or imagine overly-dramatic worst case senarios to get some perspective.Now … now. Now I just don’t know anymore.

  2. Exercise. The 30 day shred is only about 20 minutes long, and totally ass kicking. Feels awful while you’re doing it, but then so so so good while you’re done.

  3. You could try the totally impractical, nonsensical(therefore truly appealing) approach of blowing it all off to do something NOT IMPORTANT but highly enjoyable for a half hour, hour, afternoon whatever you think you can spare BEFORE you tackle all the nasties. this is generally the opposite of the recommended but it could free up your brain! Sometimes I feel I can’t cope and my brain keeps angrily reverting to the ‘things I really would rather be doing’ thoughts – and within reason – if I let myself do that for a little bit, the snarling beast is quieted for a spell. I am a consummate procrastinator however, so this approach could equally drive you psycho.I don’t know. Stress sucks. But something tells me you should take the day off tomorrow for your birthday and really enjoy yourself! I hope you have a good one, and also find a way to work through the mound of stuff you have to get through. Sympathies!

  4. I’d love to hear suggestions. My 9 month old has never been a good sleeper, but lately…screaming from 3-5 am every day. My company has layoffs going on and I’m worried that the sleep deprivation is going to hurt my peformance at a time i really need to ramp it up. I have no time to do anything but work and try to sleep. It’s times like these that trying to raise a baby with absolutely no family or good friends nearby really really sucks. We can’t afford a sitter for a night out, don’t have any friends to ask, but are in desperate need of some down time. So no, I have no stress-relieving tips.Ugh. It feels like a Monday.

  5. If its “too much to do” stress, I make a list of what needs to be done. And then break things out into sub-tasks. And then prioritize them. And then schedule them based on efficient allocation of resources (best not to do all the baking in one evening if you have only one oven). And then realize that I’ve eaten up half the time allotted for the task-doing, and yet still somehow feel better about it all.I’m also big on the stress-eating, even though I know it’s not good for me.

  6. Sleep regression central – w/ BIG PRODUCTION tantrums during the day, whee. And a new job and law school and the eight year old (one day they really do sleep all night – not sure I’d believe it without proof under my own roof) and a partner in a new position at work. It’s just life and a lot to be thankful for but hard to see the forest right now. As an intovert, I tend to check out (read, watch a movie) to recharge but that’s just impossible right now. Exercise helps but I have to make myself find the time and I just haven’t. I don’t feel like I’m giving 100 percent to anyone or anything in my life right now and have no idea where to get anything extra to give. I’m open to suggestions.

  7. I prioritize. Drop everything that can be dropped to focus on what must be done. I also schedule little treats for myself for accomplishing those odious tasks.Be well, Moxie. Happy pre-birthday.

  8. eatinc chocolate for breakfast as i just did probably isnt what you wanted to hear.im not crazy stressed, but SO FRAKKIN BUSY. there is never enough time to get everything done. so this week? freshly cooked dinners is whats getting tossed to the wayside. and any hope of excercising. thankfully i care more about us eating together that what (this week) but i still feel like i have a big F for FAIL stamped on my face.
    lists. to do lists always help put it in perspective. that and gummy, yummy grins from the 6 month old (who slept till after 7!) helps.
    “this too shall pass” works for stress, right!?!?!?

  9. All the things I’m supposed to do to get less stressed can make me more stressed. Exercise? When? Me-time? What’s that? When can I squeeze that in?And I LOVE to eat. So, I’ve decided that now is not the time in my life to worry about eating when I shouldn’t or things that aren’t the best.
    Also, I play music that I like – and that I can sing along with – really loud when I can.

  10. Lists are huge – focus on what you really need to focus on. Also schedules and routines – they help people period. Kids, adults, etc. I think routines got a bad rap among some as being too “babywise” (which I am not a fan of) when they really, really help people manage their lives, emotions, and feelings. Schedule everything – meals, downtime, exercise, etc. It will help. And it will help the kids too that are having sleep issues – gets them out of it faster. Also, if you need help – and I mean household/childcare help – get it even if you can’t afford it long term. You probably can afford it for month or two and it will really reduce stress.

  11. I was ALONE today. As in totally alone. No one was in the car with me. At all. I was ALONE. For the first time in forever. And what did I do when I had so much that I needed to do? I called a friend and left an all expletive voicemail for her explaining that I was all alone and could say whatever naughty words I wanted. Very productive, I know, but hopefully, we both got a laugh out of it.And I am a “no way around it but through” kind of person too, so put your head down and plough through.

  12. Get in bed at 9:30 — no matter what. Read for pleasure, something really mindless (think Twilight, US Weekly, etc), for 30 minutes. If you must, do a list of to-do’s before getting into bed to clear the mental space.And delegate. Outsource what you can, even if that means it won’t be as good as if you had done it yourself. It’s OK to let go. Odds are it will still be just fine. Really.

  13. For me it’s nearly impossible for me to be totally present for anyone or any task unless I’m making self care a priority. Exercise, hygiene, a quiet moment and a healthy breakfast are essential for me to be at my best. Of course, more often than not, these things don’t all happen, but when I’m despairing, I know I need to reset and take better care of me.Right now, though, I’ve got morning sickness, which for me is the worst part of pregnancy (worse than labor), because it usually goes on for 6 weeks (this is my fourth baby), I’m miserable all the time, and the housework that piles up sends me into depression. And I’m not good at being there for my older kids, my DH who’s been amazing, and I still have a home daycare to run. I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s really hard to see from the entrance.
    Breaking overwhelming tasks down into little bits always helps for me, too, like Shanna mentioned above, and rewarding the completion of an odious task with the opportunity to work on a fabulous one is a good strategy, too, I think.
    Thanks for letting me vent.

  14. Um, collapse in a heap on the floor of the messy messy closet. Throw some stuff around. Throw more stuff. Get mad at husband because some of the mess is his. Make some headway. Go to sleep. Wake up. Insist that NOW is the necessary time to move furniture from room to room. Procrastinate on internet. Comment on post about stress. Wait…did you ask for healthy ways of dealing with stress? Sorry, I’m all out.

  15. Sorry you are feeling stressed. I’d alternate if you can, among the fabulous stuff and the unfun stuff.It also sounds like the general vibe with the bad sleeping and friends’ relationships ending is kind of getting you down. Is there something fun you could do with someone one-on-one (dinner/movie/cuddle and drink hot chocolate) that would help take you away from it all for a bit?
    Are you getting enough sleep yourself? I’m a hypocrite for saying that, b/c even in grad school, when I knew better, I’d still occasionally pull all-nighters to get papers done because I liked the feeling of the pressure. If it’s that kind of deadline stuff, maybe you should push through one or two of those, and then take some time to breathe!
    Happy day-before-your-birthday day! I hope your birthday issues are not big. I guess I’ll have to wait to see tomorrow what you mean; personally I love my birthday.

  16. I make a list, and then I do the most dreaded thing first. Once I knock that out, I normally tend to feel a bit better. I’ll also put the required completion date on the list. That way, I can look forward to when it will be over. Instead of going, “Wow, I have 20 things to do” I can go “wow, this will all be over in two weeks.”Oh, and I also try to avoid multi-tasking. It feels like I’m getting a lot done, but it really interferes with actually completing things.

  17. I am a physician, I work about 60 hr a week. I have two kids. I am a diabetic. Stress management for me is an hour of yoga or other exercise a day, a willingness to let less impt things (LAUNDRY) slide for a while, and going to church. I wake up at 430 most days. I do not get enough sleep, but I do get all my necessary things done. I also agree w/ not multitasking – total time waster for me.

  18. Stress eating seems like a pretty reasonable response for your body to have when you don’t have enough energy to get everything done. I know I eat way more when I’m not getting enough sleep, so what about trying to make sure there’s reasonably healthy food around, and eating that first.In undergrad I always had this happen near finals, I’d just push everything else off to one side, secure in the knowledge that it was only temporary (and I could even circle the date on my calendar when it would be over). I find it much harder now, I’m no longer the only person in charge of my time (can’t study if there’s a tiny person in my lap trying to draw in the textbook, and she seems to take my studying so incredibly personally). And you can’t circle the date on the calendar when the sleep regression will end. I find planning little treats helps a lot. I’m doing a fondue night on Friday with some friends, and we’ve been planning this for a month…and I’m getting a little tiny bit of enjoyment out of looking forward to it every single day.

  19. Make a list of what you need to get done with the most pressing/stressful at the top.Then go sit in a coffee shop and have a big cup of coffee (I know you gave up coffee, but the drug really works for motivation). Think/reflect upon the last year of your life and how much you were able to accomplish: Finalizing your divorce, getting your apartment in order, quitting your job and embarking on a new freelance career, parenting your two boys, maintaining this site, meeting and making New and Important Friends……I could go on and on.
    Once you start feeling really good about all the crap you’ve slogged through, think about how good it will feel to slog through your measly to-do list. Try to do the least pleasant task today, get it out of the way, then give yourself permission to take your birthday (or part of your birthday) off to do something for yourself like a massage, or some kind of thing you enjoy that’s totally decadent.
    Then the day after your birthday be so happy you tackled the least pleasant task on your list already and make a plan to do two or three more tasks that day.
    I find focusing on the BIG shit I’ve already made it through puts the little shit into perspective and gives me the kick in the butt I need to Just Get Over Myself and get it done.
    Good luck and happy birthday!

  20. I used to be a runner. That was before kids, before a twin pregnancy that resulted in restricted movement and a c-section and a long recovery and then a year of no sleep and no time to eat or shower, much less run.I was finding that things started to get so bad with the not sleeping and the frustration and the mess and the whining and the chaos of our house that I started to get mad all the time, and sometimes I would lose it in the middle of the night and yell at my non-sleeping baby. No 12-month old deserves to be yelled at, so I knew I had to make a change.
    I had no time to exercise. I work full time, and I am going up for tenure soon so I am supposed to be extra-productive right now. My husband and I only have childcare part time, and we split the remaining difference between us, so I have to fit in extra bits of work during naps, after bedtime, and on weekends. I have toddler twins, a more than full time job, and a stressed out grad student husband. No time to exercise, no time whatsoever.
    But then I started becoming the mom who yells. I don’t want to be that mom. So now I am running again. Yeah, I don’t have time, so that just means I make time. I give up other things (sometimes sleep, sometimes work) to do it. And it’s so worth it. Exercise is the only thing that keeps me grounded. I am calmer now and don’t lose my temper. I feel better about things. As strapped as I am for time, I realized that I can’t do it without the stress relief of exercise. It’s non-negotiable for me, especially after looking back over the last 18 months and realizing what it meant to give it up.

  21. Well it depends on what kind of stress. Sometimes I can’t believe that my husband and I managed to get through a very stressful 2006 without one or both of us having a nervous breakdown. My husband found out that his position at work was being eliminated at work just weeks after I was due to have our son, my dad was diagnosed with late stage cancer, one brother broke his arm in car accident and the other passed out from kidney stones, hit his head and ended up with brain bleed; and finally my dad passed away just 4 months after I had given birth. Aaaaah!I fully believe in acknowledging the stress and sharing that with your partner, kids, family, sitter, whatever. Sometimes it was helpful to say that I needed a break, whether to de-stress or deal with something and have someone (usually my husband) give me some time without kids. Then just look at everything you are dealing with that is causing you stress and figure out “what’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t do this?” Sort of pick your battles with your stressors. I try not to worry about things over which I have no control. My husband still has to work on this. For instance, I work in banking and while my job is stable right now there have been cut-backs (no raises this year) and who knows if I might be laid off in the future. BUt I have no control over whether I am or when so all I can do is focus on what I have control over (laying groundwork for future contract work, cutting back and saving more, getting all the debt paid off except the mortgage, etc.
    Now I am not one discount stress eating because sometimes a brownie (or glass of wine) does make everything better but I am a big believer in bubble baths to relieve stress. And getting outside in the fresh air for a walk. And venting to a friend/family member; just having someone listen helps a lot.

  22. I always feel better if I have a detailed list. As I cross the items out, I feel as I am actually making headway–even if the list of stuff yet to do is still long.I schedule something fun for after all the stress (even if it is just the next book I want to start reading).
    Happy pre-Birthday. Mine was the 24th. I tried to ignore it, is that wrong? 😉

  23. I used to stress not-eat (when I had reflux). Bizarrely, I sort of miss that, although it was hellish in an entirely different way.I make myself go to the gym. I have to go at really an ungodly hour (get up at 5:40), it sucks, and I rarely feel great when I’m doing it (not sleeping properly/eating properly beforehand), but it is 30-45 minutes 3-4 times a week that I am not thinking about anything else except not dying right there on the treadmill or elliptical.
    But I have heard such good things about the 30 day shred I might have to try that, because that I can do during naptime (i.e., daylight hours).
    I am terrible with lists because then I just feel overwhelmed and want to curl up into a ball. My husband is the opposite; he is all about the lists. Together we manage. So, uh, I guess sharing is good. We try to delegate to each other, and that’s somehow not as effective 🙂

  24. Oh, if only I knew the answer to this. I could make a million bazillion dollars.In truth, I’m a perfectionist with anxiety problems, which means I get overwhelmed easily, and I have a hard time dealing with the feeling of upset.
    Here are my thoughts (which are worth exactly what you’re paying for them: bupkiss). Keep in mind that I tend to be pretty uptight and OCD, so this won’t work for different personality types.
    1. The List. I love lists. It helps me sort out and clean out all the “to do” items that float around in my brain bumping into one another. I also love crossing things off the list. Sometimes I add just-completed items to the list just so I can cross them off.
    2. Don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.” Can’t find time to make the perfect nutritionally-balanced organic home-cooked meal for your little ones to eat with delightful manners at the dinner table? Get basically healthy takeout from Whole Foods (or whatever store you can afford) and sit at the table together. Need to organize the playroom but the room really needs to be painted and the carpet cleaned and the toys sorted? Buy some prefab bookshelves, sort and organize the toys, and paint some other day. You get the idea.
    3. Put yourself on a schedule and follow it. This is how I dealt with the pressures of law school. I had a schedule and stuck to it. Always. No matter what.
    4. Do one thing at a time, finish it, and move on. If it is a huge project that can’t be done all at once, split it into digestible chunks. Spread them out on the schedule and work on each item in turn. (When I get overwhelmed I tend to bop from one item to another.)
    5. Exercise and sleep. As I always told my students, no good work happens after midnight (at least in my world– I know some people work best at night). Make it part of your daily schedule.
    6. Spend an extra 10 minutes at the end of the project/hour/day to put things away. Put things that really don’t need attention where they won’t get any (a drawer, a box, etc.) Leave out things that need attention. A cleaner desk can make you feel better and less overwhelmed when you return to work the next project/hour/day.
    Theresa–where do you live? Maybe a Mom’s Club or other free group where you can meet other moms could help you out? Lots of moms are in the same boat (me! me! me!).

  25. Oh – I wish I had time to read the responses now! But I will come Friday, when I have a huge manuscript do.This is what I do – go to a healthy grocery store and splurge within reason for healthy foods that you can stree-eat while feeling OK about it. I don’t think you can stop stress eating in the middle of stress!(Pomegranate? Trail mix? A smoothie thing? Fruit salad? Super dark chocolate? Stuff I’ve never heard of but Whole Foods carries?) Downgrade my exercise to the minimum possible (like, a 20-minute run 3 times a week) but still do it at that minimum level. Get up a half-hour earlier (even if you are getting up insanely early) but go to bed earlier than normal. Schedule a treat for a time in the foreseeable future – a week – when I can make time for it. (When money is flush – a massage.) buy a junky magazine that can sit on your coffee table for when you meet your next deadlines.
    happy bday! Can’t wait to read your reflections on that tomorrow.

  26. Exercise. I’m also a mom who was on the brink of psychosis when I finally got a baby jogger off craigslist and started running again. I feel SO MUCH better.Make a list of your to-do’s, and check them off! Nothing feels better than crossing things off a list.
    Plan a reward to enjoy halfway through your list, and then at the end.

  27. I think I need to start running again. The last time I ran was around 5 years ago, when I fell pregnant with no.1. I have just had no time for it since and quite frankly don’t know where to fit it in even now, but need to re-start as I remember it had a really calming effect on me all those years ago. I find with work (part-time) and 2 kids and a house finding time for me is impossible.

  28. On birthdays, mine’s in december and for the past couple of months I’ve been telling people I’m a year older than I am. Finally my partner heard me and was like you are not 34, you are 33. I had no idea. Totally skipped a whole year. I think it’s because I am so disconnected from what 33/34 should be. What’s the difference really when neither one feels right?

  29. We all get a bit overwhelmed at times and stressed out over all the things it seems we need to do. We just waded through some big things- buying a new(used)car and deciding on a day care provider- and yesterday I came home to two rather significant medical bills in the mail. I cried my eyes out a couple times last night, I think I really needed to just release all those heavy feelings and I feel SO much better today!I do tend to go the list route, but I’m not sure that helps all the time. Exercise would be nice, but when? Mr. 8 month old seems to have the monopoly on my time, and held my sleep hostage in the wee hours of the morning today.
    Enjoy your BDay Moxie!

  30. How come none of you guys are listing your stress? Bunch of goody-two-shoes?? KIDDING!Possibly one of my stress coping mechanisms is nasty sarcasm?
    Ok, seriously. Here’s my stress:
    I moved out of my apartment three weeks ago to get myself and my daughter farther away from her abusive father. We’re staying with relatives, which is lovely that they’re letting us, and lovely that we’re out of reach of you-know-who, but incredibly stressful because my daughter is 5 and their house is full of breakable things, and things that need to be kept clean and people who are under stress, and unrealistic expectations of 5 year old behavior as well as my parenting. That said however, her behavior and my parenting are both sub-optimal and I’m overwhelmed trying to figure out how to deal with them.
    Add to that the extremely costly legal process ahead of me, the fear that the result will not be good (him having unmonitored time with her), and the fact that it may be up to a YEAR before we are able to finish that process and get our own place again, get our belongings out of storage, have a life…
    Also financial stress, hardly any income, did I mention the costly legal process? And I don’t have very many friends where we are, or a partner or anything. I’m kind of depressed can you tell?
    I love this site, thank you for letting me vent all over you guys.

  31. I’m another list maker, both for the “too much to do stress” (in which case I write a list of everything I need to do and get an inordinate amount of pleasure from crossing things off) and the more existential stress (in which case I write lists of the pluses and minuses of the various options I’m facing).I’ve also always turned to exercise to relieve stress. I used to kickbox (Muay Thai), and let me tell you, punching and kicking a heavy bag is great for stress. I don’t have the time to do that properly now, so I’ve switched to yoga- very different, much less violent, but also leaves me feeling pretty destressed. I make time for yoga class once a week- I make it a priority because it also helps keep an old repetitive strain injury from flaring. It did take almost 18 months to start yoga again after the baby was born, though.
    My final stress release is talking through problems with my Hubby, usually over a beer.
    I hope you find something that works for you, Moxie!

  32. a different bend:1- stress is good (see last weeks issue of Newsweek). don’t stress about it?
    2- stress is a purification tool. it refines us as fire refines gold.
    3- as PP said: exercise (if only i would/had time/weather would cooperate/child liked her stroller)
    4- talk to God. really. talk to God; expect an answer. God wants to hear, listen, guide, help, hold, love.

  33. My theory is that this is just the damn time of year for it. I mean, every year and any year, but *especially* this year, with the economy tanking.But it’s late February. Any novelty that Winter had is long, long gone. But it’s still too cold to be comfortable outside. I’m so, so, so sick of it. Sick of taking an hour to get out the front door because everyone needs jackets, hats, gloves, etc. Sick of hunching over when I walk. Sick of my ears hurting from the cold wind blowing. Sick of dry skin and high heating bills and not having anywhere for my toddler to run around.
    Not that any of this is the end of the world in and of itself, but it just makes all the other stresses feel so much worse. And there’s no cure for it except Spring, which has been so, so slow in coming these past several years. Even when we’ve had mild Decembers, we’ve had nasty Marches, you know? So I can’t even pretend that it’s “just around the corner” – though things should get a little better sometime in March, realistically I’m not going to be able to go outside without my stupid ugly annoying winter jacket until well into April. Another what, 6 weeks? God help me!
    Like so many other people have said, I totally agree about exercise, especially running. But it’s hard to find the opportunity, I know.
    Also, I’m a huge stress eater, and it always gets better when I cut back on sugar. It’s hell for a few days, and then the clouds lift…

  34. I have to second the lists–just writing it all down helps. Also, getting the worst thing out of the way first, and if you’re really not going to be able to get it all done, ask for a few extra days well ahead of the actual deadline. Most people are pretty accomodating if they can be.I try as much as I can to get a decent amount of sleep (which pre kids would have been eight hours, now if I can get six straight YAY ME) because my ability to deal with anything is seriously compromised when I am exhausted. Even a quick 20 minute power nap helps.

  35. Here’s my current, mostly successful strategy (where success = not necessarily getting everything done, but getting enough done and — most importantly — keeping my cool with my husband, child, and colleagues, who get the collateral damage when I don’t manage stress well.)1) Go to bed early. At eleven o’clock it seems less important than getting X, Y or Z done, but man, am I so much more functional, not to mention pleasant to be around, on eight hours of sleep.
    2) Go to bed even earlier during the kiddo’s sleep regressions (in theory, anyway)
    3) Exercise often enough to get into a rhythm, but otherwise go easy on myself. Working out is good; feeling guilty about not working out isn’t.
    4) Make lists. Especially of the nagging things, big and little, that run through my head as I’m trying to fall asleep at night.
    5) Let the housework slide. It’s kind of the same strategy I have for working out: figure out how much I need to do to feel functional and not feel guilty, and forget the rest.

  36. I know this sounds weird, but when I’m lying in bed unable to sleep because I’m so stressed, in my mind I start walking through my house or lab and just making a huge mess. I throw the fridge contents on the floor, stomp on my equipment, dump out clothes, overflow the bath, smear peanut butter on the carpet etc etc. And I don’t stress about cleaning it up. For some reason this always calms me down.

  37. I’ve been so stressed lately (1. moving for the second time in a year, thanks to 2. layoffs at husband’s work plus 3. his autoimmune disease kicking in again) that I’ve been feeling my heart skipping beats in the evening. My way of managing it: lists, like everyone else, and planning my time very carefully (internet a terrible time-suck — hi!). Plus I am straightening out my eating. Cutting out refined sugar and eating vegetables and fruit again. I feel better after less than a week. And starting to exercise. Everything feels more manageable already.The other thing I’ve been doing relates to the exercise we all did here earlier in the year: the truth about ourselves that’s been holding us back. Mine was the idea that I *do* actually have time for the things that are important. I just have to move the things that are less important. It helps me, amazingly enough, to think about it from that perspective.

  38. @ paola: that was me, who exercised regularly and stopped when pregnant. When my (second) baby turned 2 was when I finally decided I had to get back in the saddle. It’s sometimes hard, since the time I get is the time that nobody else wants to be awake, but I’ve found it really worthwhile in the end.@ stacy: I totally agree about February and needing spring and to be outside right this very instant! My kids have started to lose their gloves and hats, and I just refuse to replace them, as if that is somehow a sign that they’re not going to need them any more. Heh.
    @ maria, hugs to you and your daughter. Maybe there is a Moxie reader close to you that can just meet you at the park or something?
    I’ll list my stress. It’s looking like we are going to move from the neighborhood where we’ve lived for almost 9 years and move abroad. Our target date to move would be in about 5 months. There is so much that would have to be done in advance of that (overhaul our co-op, try to sell it, pack, shop, pick a place to live, deal with schools, get new citizenship, etc.) that I completely paralyzed at the thought of any of it. Like right now, when my son is napping, and I should be…I don’t know, going through my closet or sorting books or something. But I’m not.

  39. This is a very small one but here it is – my emergency de-stresser routine:When things are stressful all around we have a family picnic. We pick up cheese, hummus, fresh bread, veggies, and fruit juice. Simple simple food.
    We slice and lay out on trays.
    We take into the living room (gasp) and eat on the floor. (Yes, you can get the hummus out of the rug. At the park if it’s spring/summer.) We put on nice music. We read “Alligator Pie.” Maybe we put on some new age like music.
    (If things are really difficult, this may occur with DELIVERY PIZZA.)
    Sitting on the ground is very soothing to me.
    Be sure to stretch out and really treat it like a picnic.

  40. Various options, for me:1) Chocolate and salt. I try not to overdo them, but I also keep in mind what Ellyn Satter says about food-related behavior. The only abnormal is responding the same way ALL the time. So stress eating some is OKAY! She considers it disordered eating if you never cheat and never stress-eat and never do anything but eat ‘right’ all the time. Sometimes, you really SHOULD eat the entire freakin’ plate of cookies just because they’re so yummy when they’re warm from the oven… Yeah, I’m behind that one! (Only, it’s the chocolate almonds with sea salt… mmmm… salty and sweet at once, I’m there!)
    2) Prioritize and chunk. Prioritizing isn’t enough for me – I tend to prioritize like this:
    first, clean up entire house
    second, bring garden up to season
    third, read the books I need to read for my job
    fourth, make sure the kids are getting all their needs met (or wait, that’s first!)
    fifth, make sure ep feels appreciated
    sixth, pick up bits of head that exploded (mine, that is)
    I’ve learned over time that I have to do no more than 5 minute chunks on the priorities, or I never start them, then worry about them getting later and later. Ep swears by a lot of the lifehacker (.com) stuff, and I’ve found some of it useful – I’m not as organized as he is, but I do recognize that I tend to make a checklist of goals where there’s a first action I need to make and don’t list the action. Like, to get the next workup done for my endometrial issue, the first thing I need to do is determine what the cost is going to be, so that I can then determine what insurance I’m selecting out of the work set – but that first step isn’t actually a STEP. First: Call the OB who will be doing the work. No, actually, that’s not it, either. FIRST, look up the OBs number. THERE. That’s a first step I can put on my to-do list. If I break it down into that size chunks, then I can actually do the steps, and there’s no vague ‘er, I don’t have time to do that one right now, I’ll do it later when I have time’ (= STRESS)
    So, prioritize, but chunk things down into ACTUAL actions, not ‘sets of actions’. It also gives me more I can check off at the end of the day. I do go through to-do lists that way, though…
    3) Positive meditation (the Loving Kindness meditation: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/half_full/?p=645 ) or keeping my positive thoughts ratio up (6 to 1 is the optimum, I think).
    4) Supplements to keep PPD at bay. Plus sunlight, plus all the other stuff useful for PPD, which is also useful for mental function in general. You know the list!
    5) Intentionally letting some balls land. It isn’t dropping the ball if you did it on purpose, it is letting that ball land. My blog? Not so active lately. Why? Because I’m managing a ROCKING job (which is eating my brain at night, some days), and dealing with the friend with cancer and kid on way, and some other stuff. Blog has had to take a back burner – I opted instead to place my energy in the short-term to where it needs to go. WHEN I have the energy and time, I post, but it isn’t generally as in-depth, because I just don’t have the space to hold a whole post in my head. In a month, different picture – but until the baby comes, I let that ball fall. If it happens to fall in my hand, I’ll grab it. If not, not. Making it a choice to let it go keeps it from eating me with stress. I can nod to it, recognize where it landed, and keep going with the other balls in the air.
    6) I’m not good at getting the worst thing out of the way first. I am reasonably good at alternating what is good.
    7) My mom rewards herself with the best chocolate money can buy for each odious task on her list. Quality, not quantity, for indulgence also keeps the stress down on the stress eating. 🙂 This never works for me, because I want both (though I’ll admit I do feel satisfied sooner with quality chocolate).
    8) For things that are really back-burner, put a schedule on them, so they come back to the surface periodically. Electronic methods are good for this. Set a reminder to think about that in a month.
    9) Get yourself a data collection system that you will use (I use little slips of paper – which works for me). As long as you can trust your data collection system, your stress will go down. As soon as you stop trusting it, your stress goes right back up. If you’re not normally a list person, you need a list that you can’t/won’t lose, and you will/can use. For a long time I used my Palm, but I found that because I’m very kinesthetic, I need to handle the bits of list physically more than the Palm allows. Hence, I use 3×5 cards. Because I’m kinesthetic, I also prefer the Levenger ones (they write sooooo nice… smooth, sturdy, flexy… mmmm). I clip them together and rewrite and revise and make notes out of them, cross them off all sorts of things with them. Electronic isn’t my best method (though I use it for backup reminders – calendar works for me, to-do does not). You can also put reminders on the physical calendar if you check your calendar daily (I don’t, which is where the physical one fails me on reliability – don’t check it so can’t trust the recovery system… working on that, though).
    Hang in there. That’s my main set off the top of my head – but I have a meeting to run to, and I haven’t had lunch yet… whoops. Sigh. Lunch after, I guess. Chocolate on the way… Mmmm…

  41. @Maria- {{hugs}}You’re strong and brave and will get through it.
    But maybe you don’t have to do it alone? Are there organizations in your area that help families like yours? It sounds like you need someone to talk to who can help you sort things out and figure out what you can do to make life as good as possible for you and your daughter.
    You could try asking at the nearest YMCA or YWCA to see if they know of other organizations that can help. I know of a couple organizations here in San Diego that would help, and I have to believe that there are similar organizations in other parts of the country.

  42. 2-step program:1. go for a walk if at all possible, and let your unconscious mind simmer while you passively notice birds, trees, dogs, sidewalks. Take some deep breaths while you’re at it. If the walk isn’t possible, some deep breathing (raise up your arms, stretch to the ceiling) and maybe a 15-min break looking out a window helps.
    2. declare jihad on the stuff that *you can control* and that’s the most important or time sensitive. Prioritize and do the most critical stuff first. Bag the rest and tell yourself you will worry about it after you get some of the biggies done. Then, just plow through it.
    Optional 3rd step: enlist a good friend to either help talk you through how you’re going to do it, or help you do some of it.

  43. Just wanted to chime in and say that you women are all awe-inspiring. All of the crazy things on our plates, the stress, the worry, the love. Where would the world be without mothers? That said, we need not feel like we have to carry the world on our shoulders. No one is ever really alone, though I know it may feel that way.I keep telling myself that parenting is a team sport (sometimes anyway.) My newest method for getting out of jail free to is to let stuff go around the house to the point where DH can’t take it either (i.e. he has no clean undershirts for tomorrow) and will automatically do something about it without me having to say anything.
    I’m not in any position to give any helpful advice right now, as my house, waistline, cholesterol, blood pressure, and checkbook are all screaming “you suck!” 😉

  44. I do yoga regularly – I do one class a week in the early AM and another on weekends while my husband can watch the kids.I try to start everyday and end everyday with a 5 minute meditation or just QUIET time. It really helps to clear my head and determine what is really important vs. what seems important and can really be ignored or dealt with later.
    My kids are out of the sleep mess (at least for the time being) so I also try my best to get 7 hours night of sleep. That helps immensely.
    For the moms who are still going through those horrible sleepless nights I would advise them, as much as they can, to LET EVERYTHING ELSE GO. I know, I know. We are Type A and want to do the dishes and finish the laundry and write the press release and impress our boss, etc etc etc. But you simply cannot have a good mental framework on 2-3 hours of sleep at a time. It is not possible.
    So sit down with whatever support system you have and figure out a way for you to let everything but the baby go. Obviously, you may have to work…but can you cut back on projects or ask for a little more help? Let the house go. If you can, hire someone to clean it or help with the laundry. If you can’t, ask a friend or family member.
    I wish I had done more of this when mine were little. And I vow to do it more if I have another child.

  45. Hi Moxie,Happy Birthday :)!! Make sure to take some time for yourself tomorrow!!
    We work so hard to try to accomplish so much as parents that we forget to take time for ourselves. The only way to do it really is to make it a priority, and abandon the guilt in the process. I do yoga on a regular basis and have been doing so for the past 7 years—beginning when my kids were 4, 2 and baby. Last week, I was recovering the flu and my kids were sick too. It was the first full week of yoga I had missed in years, and boy did I notice it! Granted, being sick may have contributed to my irritability, but I could definitely attribute some of it to missing yoga. It is such a big stress relief. I share this with you to illustrate the benefits to the children as well when we make self-care a priority. It is a service to them to provide them with happy parents.
    We have a nice, comprehensive topic on our website for parents: Making Time for Me: http://tinyurl.com/aj4sla . I hope it is helpful. Many times we have to get creative to make what we want to happen actually happen.
    February is a challenging month after a long winter. It can take a toll on relationships. I’ve been blogging about this too lately. It’s especially hard this year with all of the economic stress.
    Remember your sense of purpose and how many people you are helping.
    Sending my best wishes your way…
    Coach Nancy
    http://www.myparentingsource.com/community/blogs/nancyp/default.aspx

  46. ignore everything and throw myself into books.or make a list, drink coffee, turn up the music and DO IT!
    depends on the mood … reading just puts it off … kicking it down the road, but when I just can’t make myself, sometimes it is what happens….
    oh and reading blogs…. pretending I am not ALSO StREssED!

  47. I’m definitley big on lists. Make it. Put everything down without thinking about it. Just get it down. Then look at what you can delete from the list. Or postpone until after the stress period.Take your new list, and prioritize. Remind yourself which things will be important to have completed in a month? a year?
    I usually alter crappy tasks & fabulous tasks. Depends on my mood. Sometimes tackling the crappy first motivates me, sometimes it’s the other way around.
    When it really is getting to you where your head is spinning & you can’t concentrate, do something else – a walk around the block, a few sun salutations, etc. – something physical preferred. If I keep it short, but do things with my body instead of my head, and focus on breathing, I find I can calm my mind and actually get more done in the end by taking a 5-10-15-30 minute break – whatever is needed.
    And you can count me in for the crappy kid sleep. My DS woke up EVERY HOUR last night (from 6pm – 7am). Argh.

  48. I’m also a BIG list maker. I remember when the little man was just weeks old feeling completely overwhelmed with new motherhood, nursing with one arm and writing out a list with the other that said things like “nurse baby” just so I could cross it out right away. I know this about myself and when I start to feel frazzled I sit down with a cup of coffee (ummm… coffee) and take fifteen minutes to make a list with A, B, and C priorities (the A priorities are still things like feed baby, feed dog, etc.). It lets me realize how very much I do get done even if it doesn’t look like big ticket items on the surface.I also breathe. How stupid is that? But I realized that when I get stressed I just get all knotted up and if I can take time either when I feel it happening, or on bad days once an hour (I’ve actually set a timer in the past!) to take ten deep breaths, it helps. And I’m not a “yoga” type of personality — not that there’s anything wrong with that type, I wish I were more of one.
    Lastly, I do retail therapy via craigslist. I rarely buy anything but it’s my brain melt at the end of the stressful period. And if I can do it with a bowl of popcorn, so much the better.

  49. happy birthday Moxie!!@maria, many hugs.
    lately, I’ve been using the Serenity prayer. grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. then I do a mental handoff to spirit of the stuff I can’t change, and frequently, I get an inspiration about something I actually can do which makes me feel better.
    Lists sometimes help. try to stop spinning on how much there is, choose one thing & just do it. What hedra said about chunking, I remember reading something in one of SARK’s books about breaking things down into micro bits, just like hedra said, Look up the doctor’s number.
    our stressors?
    *new preschool adjustment. new teacher was supposed to be good communicator. NOT.
    *alcoholic/anxiety med addicted MIL may have gangrene in toes & has upped her drinking to the point that there have been 2 unwilling 911 calls & transport to ER due to bad falls.
    *husband started new job. in banking. great opportunity/big change/anxiety about industry. ironing shirts added to my to-do list.
    *son has bronchitis, dealing w/new doc’s office, and trying to get prescription called in but only getting answering machine & no call back.
    *and surprise surprise, I’m sick w/yucky head cold. can’t take OTC cold meds as I have awful side effects.
    *no time w/husband, feeling whiny about lack of funds, lack of time for exercise, lack of sleep –how am I going to get better?!
    thanks for the venting space!

  50. I run. Running gives me time to work things out in my head and by the end of my run I just feel better. It’s gotten me through two miscarriages, infertility, a layoff, and the sleep deprived early days with my daughter. And it gives me some guilt free latitude to indulge my sweet tooth.

  51. Tiny self-care rituals–using a lemon-sugar scrub on my hands after I finish up with the dishes, for example–really help me. Listening to music I really enjoy. Exercise is my big stress-reducer, even though I am still learning to love it. But I feel so much calmer on days when I work out, and I’m much more patient with the baby. Doing silly things even when you don’t feel like it–breakfast for dinner with the kids.

  52. @maria — what a time you have had this year. I seem to remember you are not in our area, but I wish you were so you could come to my house for a “real’ playdate. You, me and a pot of coffee!!Right now I am stressed about sleep. I get very little and it shows. Everywhere. My 5 month old wakes up every 30-45 minutes throughout the night for a diaper change & one side of nursing. We don’t do CIO and he’s not sick right now so I don’t know what gives. I’m trying to tough it out. I am not feeling tough.
    My 2y/o is a handful when I’m well rested and completely beyond me when I’m not. I feel like I have no yardstick to compare her behavior because I’m SAHM so there isn’t anybody else who sees how she is day-to-day. I don’t know if she is unusually difficult or normal, but I do know that the other moms of 2 y/os I know seem to be doing better than I am. When I’ve tried to take her anywhere it seems to end in embarrassing, screaming, crying tragedy … and often she cries too! Haha. I’m only kidding a little.
    I’m trying to be patient, positive and proactive, but I feel like a complete failure with her. No matter how I plan or prepare, things go badly and I end up defeated and utterly disappointed in myself. I catch myself being thankful that she probably won’t remember being 2 because it’s so awful. But then I worry that I’m not doing right by her by managing it correctly, or at all, so I’m going to ruin her. Nothing else counts if I screw her up, you know? But all I can seem to do is get it wrong, wrong, wrong every day. Getting dressed is a fight, eating anything is a fight, getting in the car, behaving in a store, taking a nap … it seems like every interaction we have is negative. There are barely 15 minutes at a time when there is no crying or screaming. Who lives like that?? Is that normal?? Is there something wrong with her? Is it me???? I am not the mother I want to be.

  53. @MrsHaley- I’m pretty sure that the other moms to 2 yos you see do NOT actually have it more together than you.My almost 2 yo is in day care, and is actually in a pretty good period right now. The day care teachers say she is fun to be with right now. BUT- we still get reports of uncooperative behavior, etc., from day care. And random things like washing her hands before dinner are prone to complete meltdowns in our house.
    I usually manage to handle her and enjoy the evenings and weekends (with a lot of help from Hubby), but doubt I’d be able to keep it together all the time if I were a SAHM with her. The main thing that works for us is patience (i.e., let her finish buckling her car seat strap umpteen times and do not try to force her out of the car after work, no matter how much I want to go in and pee- that only makes the entire thing take longer), and looking for distractions (I totally bribe her with a cereal bar to get her past the playground at day care and into the car). But nothing works all the time, and sometimes I just don’t have the time or um, patience, to be patient.
    Oh, and I took her to day care today, and we had a major struggle getting into the car. I patiently let her climb into her seat by herself, but then decided I couldn’t wait any longer when she refused to turn around and let me buckle her in. Much screaming ensued.
    I guess I’m saying- cut yourself and your 2 yo some slack. Its a tough age. You have a very hard job right now.

  54. @MrsHatleySnap!! My 26 month old is driving me to drink. All she does all day is cry when she’s with me. With everyone else, she is perfectly sweet and serene and butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. I can’t even get her to sleep anymore ( dropped the pre-sleep nurses). DH gets her under the blankets and tucked in in two minutes flat. Me half an hour. My MIL has even offered to put the child to bed for me, Uhhhhh! (that really adds insult to injury) if she ain’t crying it’s ‘up up up’ all friggin day, or ‘Wiggles, mummy Wiggles’ and then when I put the damn Wiggles on she won’t even watch the bloody dvd. She messes up anything my 4 year old plays with and then they start bickering and then the 4 year old starts whining. I hate this f…g age.

  55. @Maria, you have had a tough year! I’m sorry the move didn’t work out for you, and I’m hoping you will take things one small step at a time to get things back to “okay”.@MrsHaley, check out Sharon Silver’s Proactive Parenting website…you can find her all over Moxie’s comments section as “Sharon aka Mommy Mentor”. She has some great (and affordable) online seminars that help you deal with some of these toddler issues, and especially how to get things back under control
    We are currently struggling with a newborn and our 3 year old who thinks everything is either a massive crying/whining tragedy, or an opportunity to negotiate for new toys. We are wondering if we created a spoiled little kid, but he’s dealing in his own way. And the defiance? Ugh. Kicking. Yelling at us.The bossiness! It’s not good. My husband is going to lose his shit because he is the one dealing with most of it these days.
    I’m once again struggling with nursing…I have overactive letdown AND oversupply issues, so once again I’m dealing with a screaming, crying baby who is trying to eat but not enjoying it very much. Last time I ended up exclusively pumping and bottle feeding and I was really hoping to avoid that this time. This time, I spent $$ we don’t really have on a lactation consultant so I’m hoping catching things early, recognizing this is a problem, and working with her to monitor my supply issues will help.
    Oh ya, and Monday night I came down with the chills, a fever and a lovely case of mastitis. Yummy.
    I’m worried about $$ (who isn’t?) and since my husband is an independent contractor, we pay estimated taxes 4 times a year, but couldn’t afford to make our payments last year (because we had to do things like EAT), so we’re looking at a big tax bill come april. Plus an insane property tax bill around the same time of year, and not a lot of $$ coming in between now and then. I’m trying to think positive though. It’s pretty much all I can do at this point until I figure out an alternative source of income that I can bring in.

  56. Hmm…M&Ms are usually my coping mechanism of choice, however as a fellow stress eater, I believe that won’t help you. Rats.I must say that this past Saturday I had an absolute breakdown. Like, sobbing on the floor in a heap for several hours while my toddler maneuvered around me with her Elmo doll, happily playing. I just couldn’t take it anymore. It’s money problems (ugh!) and job hunting and everyone in this house getting sick and re-sick and me having to care for them all and feeling trapped in here because of awful weather and a shitty father who complicates my life at every turn… well, it doesn’t matter my problems because this is about you.
    Anyway, as I cried on the phone to my mom she put the old tough love on me and said “I want you to call a girlfriend and get out of the house.” Ultimately, after I made excuses about why I couldn’t do this (too much to do, no money, don’t want to unburden myself to my friends and reveal some embarrassing problems) she deflected every excuse. Finally, I did what she said. My friend and I went put the car seats in her car, drove to Barnes and Noble with the kids (free) let them play in the children’s section and sat and had a coffee (with piggy bank change!) and talked. When I came home that night, I honestly felt like a new woman.
    SOO, all this to say, call a girlfriend! Get out of the house, get away from everything, even if it’s just for half an hour or so, and I bet you’ll come back with renewed vigor.
    We love you, Moxie, so please take good care of yourself! And Happy Early Birthday!

  57. Making a list always helps me. I put them in order by what is most important to be done, but then I do whichever thing would make me actually feel better. Something like getting my desk cleaned off (I work at home) makes the rest of my tasks go faster and my mind is lighter.I also clean to deal with stress. Our house is normally in decent shape since I have clients coming in and out 4 days a week, but if my husband ever comes home and the living room is meticulously clean he has learned to be extra nice.

  58. Our stress – I’m a month pregnant w No. 3 and hubbie’s not thrilled; I’m facing weaning No. 2 and transitioning him to a big bed, and loving all of the chaos at the same time. I’m trying not to let the “wean now! move him now! hurry!” voices in my head get the better of me, and him.Coping? I try and breathe! Do yoga. Take a walk. If those all fail me, loud music or a hit of chocolate do the trick.

  59. Okay, here’s my stress: husband has a full-time job, plus teaching one day a week, plus managing our farm, plus trying to finish his MA thesis (Apologies for complaining about this to those of you who are dealing with lay-offs. The full-time work is new, hence the stress of trying to manage it with other duties). All of which means he’s not as available as he used to be to help out around the house.I teach one day a week, plus manage the marketing end of our farm, plus care for our 20-month-old son.
    We’ve also found our (mostly) dream farm, which we’re going to look at again tomorrow and probably make an offer. The offer will be dependent on selling our house in this crappy economy. (Anyone looking for a cute raised bungalow in Ontario?) It will also push our finances to the very tight point when we just got back into somewhat tight. (We’ve been looking at farms for about 2 years).
    We’re all trying to recover from some hideous stomach-bug.
    I’ve been following a high school friend’s blog about her extremely ill newborn, and it’s bringing up all sort of memories of being in the hospital with our daughter.
    Oh, we also have been trying to get pregnant since this summer.
    Unfortunately, my stress methods are denial and spending too much time online trying to avoid the work I need to do. I’m going to be trying to get back into the yoga because I noticed a HUGE difference when I was exercising regularly. Sleep should be a bigger priority, but I’ve never been a good sleeper. I am a list fan, but because we have so much up in the air right now, I can’t even begin to start with lists (I would need several with different scenarios). What I’m really holding on to right now is the fact that my sister and I are heading out to CA for a weekend sans kiddos for my sister-in-law’s baby shower. I CAN’T WAIT.

  60. happy birthday, girl! this does seem to be the time of year that gangs up on you and kicks you in the pants. i say pants instead of another saltier word for pants b/c i gave up swearing for lent. except this morning i had the mother of all meltdowns over things that just shouldn’t be that big of a deal. yes, we’re stressed, too.1. kids- pnut is feeling her boundaries and god help me, getting picky about food/refusing to eat and while i know it’s normal, it triggers the same anger/anxiety in me it did when she was a baby and i need to let go. the bean is teething and learning how to crawl which piles up into a lovely developmental disaster for sleeping and overall crankiness. the bright side? they love each other like peas and carrots and at least can make the other one smile/laugh.
    2. dissertation/school: it’s just impossible to be as productive as i’d like to be, and one of these days i am going to get the letter in the mail saying “you’re out of the program due to lack of progress you gigantic loser idiot” and then i will die.
    3. my job: i love it. i am lucky to have it. but it takes me much longer than the 5 hours i am paid for to do, which i don’t have time for. see #2, etc.
    4. the house is still not finished. my husband got very ill (from stress!) before the holidays, is now fine, will be fine, but everything got put on hold and that plus a lot of other stuff is stressing me out. i also cannot keep up with the housework. no one seems to care. but it is so disgusting here and my husband is out of underwear.
    5. we care for/live with the elderly relative who raised me, and it’s getting to be more responsibility and difficult and more time and we’re getting to the point where we’ll need someone here at the house. it is emotional and physical and i don’t deal with it well!
    6. pre-k starts next week. found out we live two blocks south of the best school district in queens, actually live in the worst school district in queens. yay us! found out a variance is nearly impossible now, even though the school we’d like her to go to is .02 hundreths of a mile further than our zoned school, and is *underenrolled* b/c the parents in our neighborhood send their kids to private school. wth?
    7. more bureaucratic mess w/ the NYCDOB. moxie, know a residential architect in queens? need some plans drawn up fast to legalize a carport that was built in 1959 that came with the house my grandmother bought ten years later, it’s such bs, and i am the one that has to deal w/ it.
    8. it’s ash wednesday so i can’t even stress eat if i wanted to, which i do. grr…
    thanks for letting me vent. whew. do we need another 60 day challenge or what??

  61. I second the calling a girlfriend idea – do something with the kids, grab lunch, or just go grocery shopping together. If you make it productive and something you would need to do anyway, it won’t stress you out more. Plus, awesome friends know just how to jump in when you call and say you need a break because of all you have going on and may offer to help out with the kids or whatever and just that offer can turn your day around.I think as women and moms, we are reluctant to ask for help, especially when we are feeling stressed about life, because this is just life and aren’t we supposed to be able to handle this? Sometimes a good friend can point out that it is okay to feel overwhelmed just because your life is overwhelming right now. And while that doesn’t make you less overwhelmed, it validates those feelings.

  62. @MrsHaley, I am SO sorry you’re going through this. I can so clearly remember feeling exactly what you say, that every interaction was negative. I could hear my own voice and objectively think, “I wouldn’t react well to that either” and couldn’t seem to snap out of it. Argh. IT PASSES. You’re not ruining her, you’re a great mom, sometimes kids are just jerks for a while and then they’re great again. It’s horrible while it lasts, but it passes. Hang in there.

  63. 1. Happy Birthday Moxie!2. Maria, you rock. Hang in there. FYI, most communities have shelters for battered woman and children. You might not need the shelter, but many of those shelters offer one-on-one and group counseling (with childcare or a concurrent children’s program) for women who are not living in the shelter. Most are free, low-cost, or sliding scale. Great source of support.
    3. Mrs. Haley– Oh, how I’ve (we’ve) been there! Some days I’m still there with my three year old. I found the book “1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12” by Thomas W. Phelan to be very helpful at that age. I also liked “The Pocket Parent”
    by Gail Reichlin and Caroline Winkler. It has specific advice for specific situations (tantrums at the grocery store, etc.)
    4. Moxie– is there a way via your site that Moxie Moms who need or want playdates/ coffee dates etc. to list their locations? That way Moxie Moms could contact each other and meet up. Just an idea.

  64. @Joy – I’m 9 weeks pregnant, and I’m right there with you on the morning sickness and how it is causing my sudden depression. This is my second pregnancy, and I have been totally blindsided by the sheer horribleness of constant nausea and occasional vomiting, because I didn’t experience anything of the sort with my first pregnancy.Nothing is getting done around my house. I have no sex drive. I can’t sleep very well at night because my stomach aches. My son isn’t getting enough attention from mom because the smell of dirty diapers and his foods sends me right over the edge. So I feel like death warmed up with a side order of massive guilt, and can only hope there is that light at the end of the tunnel as you say!

  65. I love the calling girlfriends idea, but have no friends with kids in this state, and have become increasingly distanced from my friends without kids because of comments like, “You had your baby right? Did I tell you I got a new car?” I’m not very outgoing so when I try to go to the playground to meet other moms I feel like I’m in high school again, hoping to be invited to sit at their table. I hated that feeling then, and I hate it now. And I’m not normally this crabby but the baby has a gi bug and I’mm tired of dealing with poop. And I’m afraid I’m getting the bug. And DH has started a new job (which I am thankful for) but it involves a long commute which means that it’s all me. Ack.

  66. You know, sometimes this site just makes me want to cry; you know, one of those long, broken down cries. You people really just take the world on your shoulders. Where are your boyfriends/husbands/partners/parents/family/friends? You shouldn’t have to do all of this alone! People shouldn’t be so worn down everyday that they can’t function. It just breaks my heart. Hang in there, all of you! Seriously, life is too short, and your kids need and love you, and you need and love them, and just try to take a step back and realize how good you are. Please.

  67. Happy Birthday! I forget how close your birthday is to mine.As much as we all love this site, we will understand if it’s the thing you need to drop.
    I’m stressed mostly due to the 4 month suck combined with my milk supply dropping. Although the milk seems to have come back. Also, I turn 30 this week. I know it’s just a number (and not even a really high one), but it’s kind of weighing on me. Although I found myself thinking both “I’m the youngest parent at the daycare center” and “If we want a third kid, it’s going to have to be soon, since we are getting old.”
    When the Feb blahs hit, I find that buying lots of fresh veggies helps. I let myself ignore how not seasonal they are and from how far away they came.

  68. I’m stressed because I’m pregnant, rather unexpectedly (though we were planning to start trying in earnest in about 6 months). I’m worried that the under 2-year age gap between my kids will be a little too close for my sanity an for their well-being. But I’m honestly most worried right now about how to break the news to my best friend in another state who has been trying to get pregnant with her first baby for about the last 15 months. She recently called me crying because she felt so bad about feeling jealous of another friend who had conceived on the first try. I feel like a liar for not saying something, though it’s still too early to tell the world, she’s one I tell everything to. Part of me wishes I could somehow give this pregnancy to her, for she would be so much more joyful and less ambivalent about it than I am.

  69. @ctsmom- I’m in almost the exact same position in terms of being 9 weeks pregnant and needing to wean the older kid. Except my husband is over the moon happy about pregnancy #2. I’m the sort of ambivalent one.@anon- that is a tough situation. I’ve conceived twice on pretty much the first try now (despite being over 30, so @Brooke, you’ve got time for #3 if you want it), and feel pretty crappy when I have to confess to that when friends who have been trying for awhile ask how long we tried. I think that you have to tell your best friend, but then tell her you know it is hard for her to hear this and that you want to talk about how she’s feeling as well as how you’re feeling. I’m thinking that it would be worse for her to think that her problems would keep you from talking to her, you know? But maybe someone with actual experience from her side of the story can weigh in on that.

  70. @ anon, if you want to discuss the unexpected less than 2 year thing, I have been exactly there. onetiredema at gmailAs far as your best friend goes, it will be hard. But she has to hear it from you, as opposed to a third party. I’d tell her when you feel safe doing so, leave out certain details (like how it wasn’t planned this way), and then give her lots of space and let her come to you when she’s ready.
    (I have been on both sides of this, the infertility side and the unexpectedly fertile side.)

  71. My stress (in no particular order):Our dog died two weeks ago, about one week after our baby (now 7 mos) noticed said dog and decided he was the coolest thing ever. Our basement flooded last weekend and will cost several thousand dollars to repair. We are totally backwards on our mortgage. My husband hates his job, feels like he is not meeting his potential, and that he has a “hole in his soul”, yet feels like he can’t go back to school to do what he really wants to do (if he knew what he wanted to be when he grows up) because of our financial situation. My mentally ill mother is living in a homeless shelter, and her time there is almost up, yet she won’t or can’t follow through with the paperwork to get social security…
    On the plus side I am finally gaining some confidence in this whole motherhood thing. Our daughter is healthy. I am finally over my PPD. We have tremendous family support. We are getting a nice tax return…
    So for stress relief I count my blessings, make lists and cross things off, watch reruns of Eureka and Battlestar Galactica, run…

  72. Hang in there, everyone. We are all doing the best we can.A hug especially to @Maria. You sound so brave. I don’t know what I would do in your position.
    My therapist gave me the greatest exercise when my perfectionist, type-a self was near a breakdown with so much to do: Make a NOT to do list. That is, write down everything that you just won’t do.
    I can’t tell you how liberating and great this feels. Once you start writing, you won’t want to stop. Seriously, it really helped me to set some priorities and stand back.

  73. Just wanted to say to Albe that your comments not only completely validate my approach to exercise, but you gave the sort of solicited advice I wanted to give. I’m also an academic, with part-time childcare (although, admittedly, I only have ONE toddler), and my husband works part-time (hence why we have part-time preschool care). I was “the mom who yelled” for the first year and a half of my son’s life. This would in turn make me incredibly depressed, chipped away at my already fragile sense of self, and engendered lousy eating, sleep, and exercise habits. Like you, I was a runner before a mother. Now I’m a mother who runs. I make the time. And I’m a better mother, wife, scholar, and person because of it. So, yeah, exercise. You might have to give up something else, but think of all that you’ll gain (and lose, weight wise?). Find a gym that is conveniently located and that has child-care, too, so you can pretty much take the rug-rats with you (this helps BIG time).

  74. Mrs. Haley, I am dealing with a 2 1/2 year old and a 3 month old and I am also an SAHM. I nearly lose my mind daily dealing with my 2 1/2 year old although I have found that we go through dark periods and then the tension eases up for a few days or even a week. I don’t have any kind of handle on her behavior. Her mood changes at the drop of a hat, she bosses me around all day long, she changes her mind all the time (“cheese mommy, cheesy…I want cheese”), asks me for things non-stop, everything is “no, mommy, no”…need I continue? We have had so many screaming throw-downs in public that I am sure my neighbors all think I am the worst mother in the world.My patience started wearing thin when I was in my 9th month of pregnancy and I was super uncomfortable and now that I am getting no sleep, I find that I get tired of dealing with her much quicker than I used to. In fact, I have been feeling awful lately for not being more patient with her and for expecting her to stop acting like a 13 year old took over my 2 year old’s body. I know this too shall end, but this girl of mine has always been a pretty demanding child so I am inclined to think that a lot of the challenges will continue for a LONG time yet.
    Then again, part of me is thankful that God has given me this child to teach me patience because indeed, that is one quality I definitely needed to “refine”. I am also thankful though that God didn’t push it and give me another child such as my DD. It appears that my baby boy has a pretty sweet disposition and yes, I am so humbled by it.
    Moxie, happy birthday to you!
    When I try to lower my stress level, I take a step back and sort of let everything come to a halt in my life. Usually there are many things that can “fall through the cracks” for the time being (cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping). I also find that a simple dinner out with my DH or with friends does the trick. Exercise of course is wonderfully recharging and de-stressing as well, but I have not been able to motivate lately to get back into it. It’s on my list of things though!

  75. Eat, sleep badly, eat some more, spend way too much time on internet reading only mildly interesting things, spend way too much time futzing around with desktop customization and organizing my itunes collection. sources of stress: 2 year-old-ness, husband depressed, huge rambling old house, living with mother-in-law who i adore (no sarcasm intended) but who has completely different ideas about how a house should be run. husband shares mother’s views, but works insane job which leaves him with just enough energy to spend some time with son, and none to do housework. aaaaaaaaugh.

  76. So, here’s my stress:Me: How can we work together to make the marriage better? Couples therapy?
    Him: Why don’t you stop breastfeeding 8 month old baby? It makes you irrational and depressed?
    Me: And what are you going to do?
    Him: Continue to be the hardworking guy and excellent guy I already am.
    What am I supposed to do with that?
    Mrs. Haley: We had that with the 2+ year old for two months. Then it got better.

  77. Oh yeah. I forgot.David Tennant as Dr. Who. Tall, skinny, handsome, nice, good, protective guy who adores the world and is joyful.
    He’ll help take your stress away 42 minutes at a time.

  78. I take one to two 5-HTP a day (morning and afternoon). Instant stress relief and helps me calm down enough emotionally to see a way through what I’m trying to do.

  79. @MrsHaley, I had a nice long reply to send to you, which my mom handily condensed for me this morning.When she dropped off the girls at school this morning, one of the staff asked whose mom she was. My mom was surprised, she doesn’t get that very often anymore. She said she was my mom. The reply was ‘you did a great job with your daughter’.
    Okay, so now, flash back to when I was 2, and she was not even started with therapy yet, dealing with four kids (plus one custodial at his father’s house) plus depressed husband who crossed the line far enough that she opted to divorce him when I was that age, her total lack of emotional availability as a result, her outbursts of anger (fury/rage)… 2 years old is not a good time in my life. Not.
    And yet. Here I am. Not busted by that. Not broken, deformed, etc.
    Were there better ways for my mom to parent back then? Yes. Were there a gazillion opportunities for the same lesson she WANTED to impart to get imparted later, at another moment in time? Yes. Did I need some therapy? Yes, but the amount that was due to her? Eh, minimal.
    She’s not done yet (your daughter). She’s not a machine, either, where if one part isn’t made exactly perfectly the whole thing doesn’t work – she’s a garden. You’ll have really stormy awful seasons with her, and you’ll both grow through them, around them, and beyond them, into other seasons and other seasons after that. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll see the impact of those mistakes, and you’ll hate it, and sometimes you’ll be surprised to find that something blooms out of that quagmire unexpectedly, or that your experience makes you cautious at another point that leads to some great success… and you’ll also find that over time, the stuff you did right but that seemed to have ZERO impact and so felt worthless? It prepares the ground, or shapes the growth, or produces opportunities.
    Even if it is just one moment a day, and sometimes not even one moment a day. When I was little, my mom’s rule was that she tried to end the day with one moment she could look back on as a good moment. Just one, with each of us. Not the whole day perfect, not most of the day good, not even a so-so mishmash, ONE single good moment out of everything. If she could get that, then it was a win (especially when we were 2-3 years old). And the next day, she’d get up and try to find that one moment again.
    Two things that does. 1) it makes your assessment reasonable – there are some sucky days out there, and they’re still not total losses. 2) it keeps you looking for the good stuff, instead of being overwhelmed at how BADLY everything is going (if you’re looking at only the misses, they loom larger).
    Okay, this is getting long anyway… but still. My mom frequently wanted to kill my next-older brother. Seriously, she said that the kindest thing she ever did for anyone was to let him live to be three. He took out every distress on her personally, destroyed anything she treated as precious, horrible dynamic between them (and noting this was when I was about 6 months old, so she was dealing with me plus him plus two olders). So it can get pretty bad some days – and you can still pull it back together.
    So, you know you’re not where you want to be, are feeling stuck in it – that’s a transitional point. I’ve said it before, I’ll repeat – transition is where we don’t even doubt that we can do this, we KNOW that we can’t. It is a deep certainty that I am doing it wrong, I am a failure, I am unable. True in labor, true in life. We feel so stuck we cannot POSSIBLY get through. This is where you do exactly what you just did – you say it. You say ‘I am failing, I can’t I can’t I can’t, I want to stop, I am not made for this, I will never succeed’ in some variation – it is the first reaching out, it is instinctive, and it is *only* proof that you are about to change shape, open up, transform. While you change shape to a new level of yourself, best thing to do is find good company and read a sustaining book (this is what Pooh did, when he was stuck in a great tightness, no?).
    For me, when I’m stuck in my parenting, I buy a new parenting book (ordering Sharon’s stuff qualifies, and it’s probably faster and more sustaining than most!). Wanna know how many parenting books I have? At least 20. That’s two a year, minimum, where I felt so stuck that I was certain beyond certain that I was failing as a parent. Sometimes there was something in the book that was what I needed to hear, sometimes the book barely got flipped through before putting it aside, because I realized that I already knew what I needed to do, I just didn’t have the shape in which to do it, or was missing a bit of reassurance, courage, or readiness. A little time, and I’d gather myself together for the next stage (the big push, so to speak!), I’d make it through the transition point, and something would show me that I wasn’t really failing as bad as I thought – that I could apply some old skill or new idea, and then everything aligned a bit and I could see something that looked more like success. At least for a bit, I’d get a break in the pattern, a clear view, and could see that I could succeed.
    And then they’d grow ahead of me, and I’d get stuck again, and the more yelly I’d get the more I’d realize that my child had passed my skill level again, I’d get stuck, then I’d grow to catch up.
    It works like that – they’re always ahead of us. You’re right there in that moment. And I think you’re okay. As okay as me, as okay as my mom (likely way better off than my mom was). I think you’ll make the transition, just fine.

  80. Oh, and Anon, re: Insta-pregnant and friends with IF…I’m hyperfertile, so I have also ‘always’ conceived on the first try (including errors, excluding complete anovulatory cycles – one of those). When we were trying for Mr B, I was trying alongside a very good friend. I succeeded (m/c), then succeeded again, and she didn’t. We talked about it, and about the fact that it was hard to live with both her happiness for me, and her hurt for herself, and the envy, jealousy, and confusion on her part (why why why why why?). It was a spiritual crisis, personal crisis, life crisis. I kept up with her, and she was finally onto the likely cause of her IF (very short luteal phases, like 5 days), when her DH was diagnosed with two forms of cancer. And then I had twins. And she still had no kids. And then her DH passed his 5 year remission date, and she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in nearly every joint from her neck down. They still don’t have kids. They probably won’t ever have kids. It has been 9 years since we started, and for most of that time I would see her just randomly, and I could see that my kids still hurt her, and she still loved that I had them, and it was still awful. Lately, though, not so bad. We agreed that it was okay for me to keep my distance, but still call her a friend, and for her to be uncomfortable around me and still to call me a friend. It was a very loose definition for a long time. But now, it is coming back together again. It may not be the best way to handle it, but it was honest and respectful and kind, and we didn’t choose to lose touch or affection just because we ended up on non-parallel tracks. It took some willpower and the decision to never take it personally on either side – and it worked. We’re friends for life, period. Sometimes life just has some long painful gaps in it. That’s allowed to be okay.

  81. Thanks hedra, and everyone. Hedra, I have printed out your post and will reread it often as we elbow out of this stage. We went to the library today and got the Ames & Ilg “Your 2 Year Old” and I’ve looked over Sharon’s site and made a shopping list.I love the metaphor that she’s a garden, not a machine. I KNEW I would make parenting mistakes, I just didn’t know how bad they would feel, even though I thought I had let myself off the “Perfect Mom” hook. I often think that when she gets older, maybe I will say, ‘boy, we really struggled when you were 2, but look how great it is now!’ and still be glad that she doesn’t remember this.
    I think I will try to adjust my perspective to finding one good thing from the day rather than feeling defeated, demoralized and discouraged by all the bad parts. There is usually more than one good thing.
    Also, I’m going to get a new pair of running shoes. So many people have said getting back to running has helped their stress & parenting & everything … I have the double jogger and no excuses. Maybe it will take the edge off. I am deeply lacking in the self-care department, so I do not have endless wells to tap for her. I need to fill up in order to have anything to pour out.
    Being her mom is the most important thing I’ll ever do in my whole life. I need to forgive myself for not doing it perfectly even though it is so important. I am trying so hard — both in the doing and in the forgiving. She is so marvelous, she really is. **tears** Often (usually) I don’t feel worthy of the gift of being her mom. I am trying dutifully and desperately to rise to the occasion. Thanks for your support & encouragement, everybody.

  82. @MrsHaley, I remember very clearly the sense that my child was PERFECT, and I was not. And that my NOT was likely to break their PERFECT. Somehow, that huge love I had for Mr G was huge love not for an imperfect normal human child, but for a perfect being. It was the only logic that made sense – the love was perfect because the child was perfect. Therefore all future imperfection would be MY FAULT.Only, I discovered as we went along (riiight around 2 1/2, by the way) that this child wasn’t actually a perfect being. He was human, just like me. Which meant that he had quirks and issues that were just part of how he was wired (in combination with environment, yes, but predisposed counts). The huge love was simply because he was him, and not because ‘him’ was perfect.
    I then had the work of learning to love the parts of him that weren’t my favorites. It rolls into the Acceptant Loving Faithful triad, really – I had to accept that he was just another human, and convert ‘perfect’ to ‘precious’. He’s just as precious to me in real, imperfect form as he was in perfection-imagined form. It put us on an even footing, in a cosmic sense, because I was then no longer ‘unworthy’ of being his mom. I was still totally humbled by the prospect, but it was due to the task, and not due to the nature of the individuals involved. Action, not state of being.
    Once I got to Acceptant, the Loving became more potent – because I could choose to act lovingly even when I wasn’t feeling much LOVE per se right then. And once I got to Loving, I could get to Faithful in both of us – I could trust the thousands of generations of evolution, the fact that optimal parents are just normal parents who are human and are not in any way ‘perfect’. I could trust him to grow *through* my parenting (in the sense of both being affected by it and being unaffected by it), not just because of it, and I could trust me to grow through the process, too. The burden of his life and wellbeing shifted to being a shared process, and not split by light and dark (where all light is their nature, and all dark is my fault).
    It was a hard transition. I want my kids to be perfect beings. Because if they are, then I can comfortably think I could have been, too, if only (whatever). Only, ain’t nobody perfect. Growing our kids like a garden means not making things too perfect for them, nor expecting them to grow too perfectly, either – like they’ve recently learned with trees, if you prepare the ground around their roots when you plant them ‘too much’ (make it perfect!), the roots will ball up and not move out into the real dirt around that preparation. It can kill the tree. And if you support them too much from wind (all those cable supports on three sides), they don’t flex enough in the wind, and the trunks end up extremely fragile. Having those storms and winds and imperfectly amended ground are part of normal development, natural process, optimal potential.
    Not that I’m recommending going out and trying to make things harder for anyone! Just trust that being overwhelmed when things are overwhelming is normal, and normal is okay. Striving for better is also normal, and that is also okay – We don’t have the urge to repair the mistakes we suffered from for zero reason, either.
    So, take your daughter’s being as precious, but not perfect. The reverse should be true of you from her eyes – Mom is precious, but she sure isn’t perfect. When that becomes an even equation, it is easier to do self-care, too. You’re worthy, and you always have been. It’s just a lot of hard work.

  83. @ Mrs. Haley – I think you sound wonderfully brave and honest and caring and strong – and you are doing a great job!! I promise you are doing much more good than harm. I dropped my screaming toddler off at daycare yesterday morning. Handed him to his teacher as he screamed and walked out the door – he’d been screaming on and off all morning about what – I have no idea – nothing I did made him happy. I felt like a total failure. I looked at the webcam to his classroom when I got to work – he was standing at his favorite spot next to the radio dancing and smiling. He had a rough morning – he got over it. Not my fault – and your daughter’s struggles and stages aren’t your fault either and even if you feel like you aren’t doing her any good – you absolutely are. Hang in there!!

  84. @Mrs. Haley, my daughter was your daughter and somehow we’ve made it to a comfortable place at age 7, but 2.5 – 3.5 was a disaster, and I spent every minute of every day looking forward to my husband coming home so I could hand her off. My second is an angel in comparison and I’m glad for their birth order. I can’t imagine the mental confusion of having an easy baby followed by a difficult one. Also, I feel certain I earned that easy-going kid #2!My daughter is a glass-half-empty personality, and every night I ask her to tell me three good things that happened during the day to prove to herself that in fact she’s not the unluckiest kid in town.

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