My kids stress me out. It's just a fact of my life.
Why am I writing about this on my blog about emotional eating? Because stress is an incredibly common trigger of emotional eating. We all have stress in different forms. Maybe it's what's going on at your work. Maybe it's something happening in your relationship... Maybe it's your kids.
I spend a lot of time trying to understand my life and make it better. It may not be something everybody does, but it's what I do.
And in researching what to do when your kids stress you out... I have to admit I wasn't happy with much of the advice!
While there is of course a time and a place for prescriptions drugs/medicine, I was surprised at how many people talking about parenthood causing them stress or anxiety or depression or anger felt okay with taking drugs. Some people have biochemical imbalances, and drugs are amazing to help resolve something that would be a lifelong issue, or even in extreme short term cases.
I know for a fact that I wasn't angry or bitter or resentful or anxious or nearly as stressed out as I am now before I had kids. And I also know that it's not just my kids.
Yes, it's the fact that I am a parent, but it is this life-shattering paradigm shift that I have experienced going from not a parent to a parent.
And it is the absolute bullshit pressure that's put on a woman and/or the primary caregiver of a family's children!
This is the bullshit of patriarchy being lived out in my day-to-day family life.
Because, of course, biology is sexist. The women make the baby; the women make the milk. Therefore the women are usually the primary caregivers.
And yet there's this whole group of us who don't want to be in the traditional nine-to-five situation never see our kids --- and also don't want to have our brains rot from doing nothing but wiping butts all day.
Enter the mom entrepreneur. I love my business. I love my clients. I literally love doing the work that I do helping women change how they eat and how they feel in their bodies. It's amazing!
And yet raising a business is kind of like raising a child. It takes a lot of time and energy and patience.
So now I have my two kids and my business and... My husband.
And unfortunately he just really doesn't understand what I'm doing and so I don't always feel that I have full support. So there's this juggling act going on now. He's ambitious; he's generous; he's kind; he loves reading to our kids. But holy shit, if I have to tell him where the fucking mustard is one more time I'm going to blow!!!!
And that is the stress and anxiety that I'm speaking about. It manifests itself as an inconsequential detail that I feel like I want to scream about.
And you add this up over and over and over and no wonder women are stressed out. No wonder back in the day they had their breakdowns. Even if you're not trying to raise a business, just trying to raise a family is such an immense amount of emotional burden that is unbearable.
And for me it was worse without the support of other professionals who share interests outside of raising the kids. I'm not saying no one should be happy being a stay-at-home mom. I have dear friends who are deeply fulfilled by raising their kids. I'm not. I love my kids. I take parenting seriously. I probably take it too seriously and that's part of my problem.
And I need more. I need something else. I need the rest of my identity intact. Men don't understand that because they still have their identity. I'm not speaking for stay-at-home fathers; I don't know enough of them well enough; that's somebody else's blog post.
Most of the time the men keep working, and guess what? The men is still an engineer or a salesperson or a chef or whatever. The woman is the mother. And that is an emotional burden that can't be explained.
And I think it's almost worse in this modern modern world because we can microwave dinner if we need to.... we can send our kids to practice in an Uber if we need to... and yet we can't outsource somebody expecting us to know where the mustard is.
I hate to leave my thoughts unactionable. So I'm going to tell you the most basic and simple thing that I'm doing. It's incredibly hard.
And I think it's the only solution is to stop. Just stop. And it is insidiously difficult to do!
Because I feel like an asshole when I tell my husband that I can't help him find the mustard. It's just finding the mustard. How much time can finding the mustard take? What could I possibly be doing that's more important than finding the mustard?
Oh wait. That's just it. You add up all these little inconveniences and actually nothing that's important to me is getting done.
I know I'm giving the example of my husband even though this blog post is actually about my kids. That's because with little kids more than half of my interactions are instances like these:
"Mommy where the Crayons?"
"Mommy get me a water."
"Mommy I'm hungry."
Maybe you can relate. I'm a doer. I'm a Problem Solver. It is incredibly hard for me to not DO. So whether or not you have kids, you probably have circumstances like this.
Oh, I can stay late and file that last paper.
Oh, I enjoy that part of my work; I can do a little more of it.
Oh, I'll do that project better than anyone else; I might as well sign up for it.
And I just want to say that these are all remarkable traits!!!
I'm not disparaging my ambition or my compassion for my family or your passion for your work or any of that.
I'm just acknowledging that I need better boundaries and a lot of other women do too. Because that's the answer to reducing stress. It's simply not doing the things that are stressing you out.
For me I literally can't draw this line when I'm home. If my husband asks me where the mustard is it's incredibly difficult for me to not help him find it. If my kids ask me for a glass of water I actually sometimes try to say no but then I have someone crying half the time which, again, is difficult. So I have to find times to get out of the house. It's the only way I can change these patterns.
With my business it's the other side. I love my business. I want to do my business. I want to have it grow and get more clients and help more people. And yet... Sometimes I just have to say no.
So when my kids stress me out (or I scream at my husband about the mustard), I actually know that it means there's just too much on my shoulders. It means I have to get out from underneath all this patriarchal bullshit and learn how to simply say No.