Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Stressed? Yes! Mothering three kids under 3

By Carrie Vittitoe

Being a stay at home mom is a full-time job for Mandy that lasts 12-14 hours a day. 

Stress has somehow gotten a bad rap. Stress is now synonymous with terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad things. But there are plenty of stresses in life that are wonderful and that we openly welcome into our lives, stresses like staying home full time with three children ages 3 and under.

Mandy Glassner doesn’t like to think of her life as stressful. She knows this time with Novella (3), Aiden (20 months) and Gabriel (3 months) will pass more quickly than she can realize, and she wants to enjoy as much of it as she possibly can.

Still, she has weathered some truly stressful events in the past year. Read how she has coped with them...

Her pregnancy with Gabriel was high-risk and resulted in her being hospitalized for eight days during her 32nd week. For the final six weeks of her pregnancy, she was on complete bedrest at home.

Although the responsibilities of parenting can be heavy, Mandy gets plenty of support from her in-laws and friends. 

Anyone who has stayed at home with young children knows it is challenging. “The other day I was washing dishes at 8 at night and realized I hadn’t sat down since 7:30 that morning,” Mandy says. She’s observed that stay-at-home mothering doesn’t include breaks, vacations, or sick days, and it never actually starts and ends. Although she says she’s happy to do it, she jokingly adds, “I may change my mind if we have another winter like last year.”

Because her children are so young, Mandy’s ability to be away from them for extended periods of time is limited, especially since Gabriel is nursing. But she does find ways to “take a breath.”

Mandy has a circle of friends at her church with whom she participates in Bible studies. She finds great comfort in the camaraderie of moms in similar stages of life. Her faith and prayer provide her comfort in those moments when she feels overwhelmed.

One day a week, Mandy’s mother-in-law watches all of her grandchildren from noon until 8pm. During the daytime hours, Mandy runs errands, schedules appointments or just enjoys doing nothing. In the evening, she and her husband, Jacob, have date night. Mandy’s in-laws have been married 45 years and know it is essential for husbands and wives to have regular alone time. Mandy likes that this gift is a consistent part of their routine that happens at the same day and time every week. “Jacob and I hold that time to be super sacred,” she says.

In order to take a breath every day, Mandy makes sure her children have play time alone for 30-45 minutes. She puts them in the playroom and doesn’t interact with them. This gives her a chance to decompress during her 12-14-hour days.

All of the things Mandy does to renew and refresh herself also benefit her children. Meeting with friends gives Novella and Aiden a chance to play with other small children; their weekly date at their grandparents’ house gives them a chance to see their cousins; and their daily playtime together helps them learn to entertain themselves.

Although she certainly doesn’t wish this time away, Mandy does have ideas for how she will renew herself as her children grow older. She looks forward to regularly exercising and getting back to doing home decorating projects.

When Mandy needs some free time for herself, she lets the kids have play time alone for 30-45 minutes. 

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