How I dealt with a stressful day

by Mary Ann on December 12, 2010

kids reading picture

Maggie, Jack and Mary

“Mom, it is probably a real blessing that you have my kids so much; it gives you lots of material for your blog”, my daughter said after a day that began at 7:00am and ended at about 1:30 am.

ginger bread houses pictures

A few of the gingerbread houses

Today Jodie and I are teaching 87  6th graders how to make a small gingerbread houses out of graham crackers. It is a hug project that takes over 10 hours of preparation in cutting crackers, dividing candies and making frosting. It is a gift to the three classes for the amazing fundraiser that they held for my granddaughter Maggie’s therapy.

But just because we have this special and challenging project going life doesn’t change. It just keeps right on going. Maggie still has 3 therapy sessions a day. Jack and Mary still have to be cared for. Meals for husbands have to be cooked. It keeps going on. I still have the families that I care for.

So after my morning session with a family that I work with, grandkids started arriving. That was at about 12 noon. Jodie and I began cutting crackers and bagging candy while fielding questions, resolving childish spats, keeping Mary out of the tree (which is now wired to the wall!), getting drinks, nursing, changing diapers…you get the picture. The going was slow. Then Jodie and Maggie were off to another therapy session and I stayed with the above process myself for the next few hours. Whew!

It just so happened that Jodie and Doug had a special evening planned with friends. Don and I had offered to watch the kids. That

picture of messy kitchen

The Aftermath!

was all before the gingerbread class came up. So the children stayed on through the night. Don was helping me cut cardboard bases and taking care of children so I could keep cutting crackers. Yes, I was still doing that project at 6:00pm; too many interruptions to make much progress.

By 8:00 our nursing granddaughter was about at the end of her rope. She kept crawling into the kitchen and standing up via the backs of my legs and then falling down as I moved to pick her up. It hurt her feelings and then she would cry. Now this had happened more than once. Jack was on an adrenalin rush and was like a little wild man. You know how children get when it is really time for bed, they are tired and ready to go, but they don’t want to.

I kept watching the clock. I knew time was passing and I had at least 4-5 hours of prep left. It takes a lot of time to make seven batches of frosting and fill and rubber band 87 pastry bags. YIKES. The stress I was feeling was rising. I picked Mary up and as I walked out of the kitchen I had the most amazing desire to SCREAM!!!! Not at the children, just scream.

I hadn’t had that feeling for over 15 years. I mean it has been a long time and I had forgotten what that feels like. When I was a young mom I would have screamed. Then I would have started yelling at kids, a husband and anyone else in the near vicinity. But last night I swallowed it down and then I took my own advice. I STOPPED.

ginger bread house photos

A few more gingerbread houses

I looked at these sweet children and I STOPPED. I sat on the couch with Mary and held her close and fed her some juice in a bottle. I watched Jack and talked with him and Maggie. I let go of the feeling that I was running out of time that the world was going to explode if I didn’t get more done faster. You know what, Mary calmed down, Jack calmed down, and Maggie was laughing. I felt peace.

It was a long day and a long night. Jodie and I didn’t get all through our preparation for today until 1:30 this morning. But we did get it done. Children stayed happy. No one yelled.

I am making this confession because my daughter is right. Maggie’s condition has been a blessing to me. Because of it I have a number of children on a regular basis for quite a bit of time. It keeps my head in the game. It reminds me what it was like raising seven children and carrying a big load every day. It reminds me what its like to get to bed in the wee hours and then get up at 6. It reminds me how easy overload can happen.

When things are spinning out of control in your world just STOP. Focus for a small bit of time on what really matters, which is usually our family. Reevaluate the fires you feel you must put out. Give yourself a minute to regain your composure and your peace. We often think that running away from the chaos is the answer to avoiding stress and getting relaxed. In my experience, the solution to managing a chaotic situation, is to sit down in the middle of the chaos and hold a (screaming) child, listen, stay calm, breath and let go.

PS  As you can see the project was a wonderful success!!

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