We were driving to my mum’s house last week and some fool had mentioned to Gabriel – my five-year-old boy who has global development delay – that we were on our way to visit Nanny.
Gabe has no concept of time and is non-verbal so obviously when Nanny’s house did not appear within 3 seconds he started to ask “are we there yet?” through the creative mode of shouting and screeching (so clever). He also proceeded to kick Daddy’s chair as if it was all his fault (he might have learnt this blame technique from me).
Nothing would distract him – not even my harmonious Down the Way Where the Nights are Gay, which is usually such a crowd pleaser.
I could see my husband’s face looking more and more stressed as the seconds ticked on. The dual combination of my
soulful sweet-sounding singing and the boy’s unrelenting thumping him in the back were about to tip him over the edge. We had only been on the road for 20 minutes. We had another hour and a half to go. I knew he needed a stress buster. Stat. So I switched to Gloria Gaynor’s I will survive. I even added in jazz hands and used all my best dramatic intonations to cheer him up. Therefore, I was a bit surprised when he pulled over at the services and hid in the toilets for 20 minutes emerging eating two Big Macs at the same time.
These spikes of stress are common in most people’s lives.You probably see more of them when you are raising children, and these spikes might be higher and certainly more sustained if you are parenting a child with additional needs. In fact a study found that the chronic stress associated with special needs parenting is similar to that of a combat soldier.
It is important, therefore, that we learn how to manage these stress spikes without losing a bit of our own sanity each time. The internet is littered with “useful” advice. Top tips usually include the following:
- Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine
- Indulge in Physical Activity
- Get More Sleep
- Try Relaxation Techniques
- Talk to Someone
- Keep a Stress Diary
- Take Control
- Manage Your Time
- Learn to say No
- Rest if you are Ill.
I don’t know about you, but that list is as useful to me as a size 8 body con dress. Try navigating 3, 7 and 9 with children who don’t play by the same rules as the rest of the world. Number 2, 4 and 6 require some element of number 8 (which I haven’t managed since 2006). Number 10 – will make any parent giggle uncontrollably. As for 1, well… jeez, suck all the fun out of life why don’t you. I think i’d rather take my chances in the combat zone.
Here is my own personal stress-relieving list.
- Find the most harmless, benign person and channel all your anger towards them. It is amazing fun. We use Lorraine Kelly (I’m sure she won’t mind) and constantly take the piss out of her lack of attendance on her own telly show. My kids have even made their own words to her theme music: It’s Lorraine, but not with Lorraine.
- Be an idiot. Do stupid things. Laugh loudest at your own jokes. My mate sent me this gif yesterday. Just because. Find loads of like-minded clowns and try to outdo each other on the puerile front. You don’t have to be an adult all of the time.
- Eat all the cake and drink all the wine. If you are going to do it, just do it. Don’t beat yourself up all day about it. Or do – but have more cake to make yourself feel better. Some slim actress or whatnot admitted the other day that being skinny didn’t make her happy. There you go – more excuse to jolly up and eat more chocolate eclairs.
- Find hottie people to perv at – the more the merrier. You can even day-dream that they will see you on the school run as they pass in their limo and whisk you away to a life of nannies and premieres. As I am quite partial to my husband you would never catch me following this top tip (but keep your thieving eclair-fattened hands off Jamie Dornan, Tom Hardy and Bradley Cooper. Okay.)
- Get frickin fabulous – if you don’t have the spends for a hair cut or a new outfit, go and buy a new lipstick or something. Or spend an hour making your feet (yak: mental images) fantastic.
- Get excited by box sets. Nothing makes you forget the horrors of the day than the gleeful anticipation of the next episode of a new addictive series or the sheer naughtiness of watching ahead of your partner (being a saddo is the new sexy).
- Shake it off. Crank up some cheese-on-toast music and dance like a loon – taking the kids with you. Throw in as many snazzy David Brent-esche moves as you can. Give the nine year old some cringe fodder. Win win.
- Plan a night out with your mates. You’ll never go. But for a few weeks you can pretend you are going to stop eating cake and be the envy of the local pub with your other-worldly good looks (hell, Jamie might be there).
- Finally, smile. Just smile. Who knows your brain might decide that it likes it.
Good luck my friend.
If none of these work, I will call you and sing Down the Way Where the Nights are Gay. Everyone does love it. I wouldn’t do that for just anyone though. Only you.
This is a tongue-in-cheek post. If you really are finding it hard to control your mood and your anxiety is all-consuming, please do go and speak to your GP. You’ll be surprised at what they can do to help.