I’m in the throws of my last year of graduate school. There are papers due and plans to write. I don’t know if I’ll find a job next school year. The soccer season has had our family running to practices and one to three games per week. I have multiple house projects that need to get completed. Speaking of which, my house is a mess. I hosted two 10th-birthday parties for my daughter over the two recent weekends. My kids are fighting colds. Two of my three kids have food allergies and I am paranoid every time they eat food somewhere where I can’t monitor them. I haven’t been doing enough yoga. I need to get out into nature and hike. I haven’t finished the book that we’re supposed to read for book club. I’m terrible at meal-planning. There are papers to be organized all over my house. There are outgrown clothes in boxes that just need to go away. I should be reading with my children more. I need to finish this week’s reading assignment for grad school. I have to prepare a resume so I can start looking for a job for next year. I still have two tests to take (and pass) in Madison before I can do my student teaching in January. I still have to put the garden to bed. I still have to clean out the garage. My children have too many toys. Why do we have so many mismatched socks? Do the kids still fit into their winter gear? When should I get new tires for my car? When and where am I going to go shopping for Christmas presents? How can I make sure that the gifts that I purchase this year support companies whose political leanings align with my own? How can I ensure that the gifts that I give are produced responsibly? How can I lose that last 15 pounds? How do I include meditation into my day? Am I eating enough vegetables? When was the last time my children flossed their teeth? How will I know that they will be safe at school?
Welcome to my inner monologue. I’ll bet it’s not unique. This was just the tip of the iceberg.
My advice this holiday season is to be kind. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your children. Be kind to your friends and neighbors. Remember that your inner monologue of concerns isn’t unique. There are countless other adults out there functioning with similar stressors.
Be grateful and give others grace. Give your children grace. If you’re stressed, chances are they are, too. Try to find a way to connect and relax. Try to find a way to help one another work through times of stress. After all, our children are watching us. We owe it to them to teach self-care, acceptance and understanding. I know that’s my goal as I enter the winter: learn to accept help, practice self-care and teach my children how to maintain lower stress levels as well.
Ainsley Rowe Anderson is a mom of three whose roots run deep in the Driftless Area mineral districts of Wisconsin and Illinois. She is the co-owner of Driftless Kids in Mineral Point and shares her thoughts on raising children in the Driftless in this space on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on education and kids.