Thursday, June 28, 2007

Trenches / Chapter 2 / 23 Summer Sanity Savers

Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your kids.

Whether it’s scribbling with black permanent marker on your cream-colored bedspread, teasing and tormenting a younger sibling just to hear them squawk, bringing a "pet" preying mantis into the house, or asking for a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast, lunch and dinner – kids have a knack for driving parents crazy.

If you’ve come to the end of your rope, try some of these tips to regain your sanity.

1. Just say no. Practice saying no to extra activities and projects that you don’t have time for.

2. Let go of things beyond your control.

3. Keep a gratitude journal. Before going to bed at night, write down five things that you’re grateful for from the day. ("I’m grateful for Band-aids.")

4. Occasionally eat cold cereal for supper.

5. Give yourself more time when you have to do anything with kids.

6. Connect with your kids. Studies show that the more you distance yourself from your kids, the easier it is to get angry at them.

7. Read to your kids or have them read to you.

8. Do the unexpected. Every so often Jared delights in playing copy-cat. It drives me nuts. One day, instead of letting it get my goat, I said, "I think I’d like to clean toilets today." He repeated it, and we both ended up laughing.

9. Don’t forget to pray. Try this one: "Dear Lord, so far today I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or overindulgent. I’m really glad about that. But in a few minutes, Lord, I’m going to be getting out of bed. And from then on, I’m going to need a lot more help. Amen."

10. Feed children before taking them grocery shopping, and avoid going when it’s close to nap time.

11. Enjoy present pleasures. Savor holding your little boy’s hand while he’ll still let you. Sing "The eensy-weensy spider" with your daughter. Kiss a face covered in cookie crumbs.

12. Exercise.

13. Keep romance alive. Establish a ‘date night’ – or at least set aside money each month for dating. Also, play board games together as a couple once the kids have gone to bed.

14. Read one of Erma Bombeck’s books.

15. Occasionally put yourself in time-out. Explain to the kids that you need some time to cool off. Then go to your room and shut the door.

16. Whisper. Sing. Yodel. Do something creative to get your child’s attention.

17. Get more sleep. If your kids take naps, join them. Otherwise, try to hit the sack early.

18. Capture childhood’s Kodak moments – faces after a spaghetti dinner, kids playing in fall leaves.

19. Make friends with your neighbors.

20. Ask spouse and other family members for help. (Note: If you want continuing cooperation from your spouse and others, give them a job and let them do it. Don’t insist that it be done your way, or it may not get done at all.)

21. Build some quiet time into every day for thinking and relaxing.

22. Establish an early bedtime for the kids and stick to it.

23. Work on demanding tasks when you have the most energy.

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