Over the past 8 months, I have stressed about how to have it all: career, family, friends, health, hobbies, etc.
And it shows.
I've gained a bunch of weight, and I am now in the process of working it off. Slowly!
Added stress in your life means that you are producing more cortisol than normal. And if you have too much, it can mess up your body big time.
According to WebMD:
Think of cortisol as nature’s built-in alarm system. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear.
Your adrenal glands -- triangle-shaped organs at the top of your kidneys -- make cortisol.
Cortisol plays an important role in a number of things your body does. For example, it:
Manages how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
Keeps inflammation down
Regulates your blood pressure
Increases your blood sugar (glucose)
Controls your sleep/wake cycle
Boosts energy so you can handle stress and restores balance afterward
After the pressure or danger has passed, your cortisol level should calm down. Your heart, blood pressure, and other body systems will get back to normal.
But what if you’re under constant stress and the alarm button stays on?
It can derail your body’s most important functions. It can also lead to a number of health problems, including:
Anxiety and depression
Memory and concentration problems
Problems with digestion
Well, this explains pretty much everything going on with my life over the past several months. Throw in peri-menopause (in which my lady hormones that help get rid of the cortisol are diminishing), and I am all kinds of messed up.
I was having difficulty sleeping. I was having difficulty remembering things. I often had a headache. I had lower back and knee joint pains. I had gained 25 pounds over the past 8 months!
So, recognizing what was happening, I enlisted my good friend, running partner, and health care professional, to help me get back on track.
We eliminated the stress eating, and got back to healthier options. I began to exercise more regularly.
We talked about why I needed to make changes.
We talked about short term and long term goals.
We figured out ways to start working out again, even though I was working twice as much as before.
I made schedules so every half hour of my day from 6 am to 10 pm was accounted for, for the entire week.
We looked at what was causing me stress (EVERYTHING), and what could help eliminate it.
One of the biggest stress factors was my home life.
I was trying to do what I had done when I worked 20 hours a week--but instead with a 40 hour a week job.
It was a recipe for disaster, and no wonder I was a mess. Changes needed to be made.
This was one of my biggest fears when I accepted the job, that my home life would suffer. That I couldn't "do it all".
I now realize I can not do it all. Nor do I want to.
Instead my friend helped me figure out that I have 3 strong, responsible gentlemen in my life that are quite able of picking up the slack.
She didn't say it quite like that, (she was much more diplomatic, and suggestive, like, "can J and B help out?") but that is what my brain heard.
J and B are now teenagers (or close enough). They can begin to make their own breakfasts and lunches. They can help out with chores around the house. They can "fold" and put their clean laundry away--or just put it away. It's time for them to start helping out.
I also needed tell my husband I needed assistance.
When I am working weekends, he could make dinner, not wait for me to come home and figure it out. He was kind of doing this before, but not regularly.
By having them help out around the house more, that would allow me to begin focusing on me, and letting me work on getting healthier and in the long run happier, and less stressed.
And being a better mom!
I came to the realization that I had failed my boys this past week.
I asked B to put his clean clothes away.
I told both kids (again), that with my job, I really needed them to take on some of the things around the house that I usually did. I reminded them that they were now old enough to take on some responsibility. In return, they would be rewarded with trust. Like, I trust you to stay home by yourself for an hour while I run to the store, and not burn down the house, and fight with your brother.
J has been doing a great job of putting his clean clothes away for about a month. Granted, he doesn't fold anything, he just shoves them in the drawers, but it is out of the basket and out of sight.
He also has been doing a great job of getting his own breakfast (it's just Cheerios), making his own lunches, and doing what needs to be done, like taking out the trash, closing the curtains at the end of the day, setting the table, unloading the dishwasher and cleaning up after himself.
He even reminds us if he hasn't taken his ADHD medication!
B on the other hand has not embraced the added responsibilities.
Oh, he will grab some muffins to eat for breakfast, take out the recycling, and also help set the table. He will argue with J about unloading the dishwasher.
Taking care of his video games, and Scout stuff? I need to ask him over and over again to take care of his things. They usually end up in a pile by the TV. Not really taken care of, but at least someone won't trip on them.
And those clean clothes I asked him to put away?
They stayed in the basket in his room, untouched (except to get clean clothes out to wear), for 3 weeks.
I finally said, enough. Put your clothes away.
You'd have thought I took away all his Penguins.
He was almost in tears.
I told him that he did not need to fold them, but I wanted them out of the basket so I could use it to put his dirty clothes in.
In the end I convinced him to bring his basket into my room, where I was folding my clothes.
He was not happy. He went back into his room, and grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around himself and over his head, and then tried to fold his clothes.
It was at that moment I realized I messed up as a parent.
I should have taught my boys several years earlier to pull their own weight.
I did too much for them. I failed in my job as a parent in helping them be independent, productive citizens.
I should have made it into a game, instead of a chore.
Every opportunity to work around the house should have included the boys.
That did not happen, and we are now suffering the consequences.
B eventually finished folding (with my help of course...I needed him to get out of my room), and started to put them away.
To the future spouses of my boys, I apologize profusely.
At least they like to cuddle, so there is that.
I'll keep working on them. I hope that as they mature, they will see that helping mom and dad around the house will help them in the long run.
If momma ain't happy, then no one's happy, right?
In turn, helping us out will make them better human beings.
And isn't that really my job as a parent. To help my kids be the best they can be; well-adjusted, confident, kind young men. To be someone who will help those in need, and stick up for the underdog. Who will be good team players, and work well with others?
We may have a little work to do, but they are after all in the midst of becoming young adults, so they are pushing the boundaries, just like I did when I was a teenager.
I'm just going to have to push back.
Let's go see if those clothes are put away yet?