If there’s one thing guaranteed to make a parent feel stressed, it’s when their offspring accidentally hits another child on the head. This is exactly what happened at the swimming pool the other day when Izzy, my youngest daughter lost control of a ride-on toy boat she was using and, bump, collided with a small boy in the pool. As the responsible adult overseeing my child’s behaviour, I felt the need to apologise and give the boat to someone else, all the while my stress levels were going through the roof.
Over the past few weeks I’ve learned a valuable lesson. In fact my daughters have taught me a lesson about avoiding stress.
There I was, sat in the car with my two children, both of whom were in a demanding mood. The sun was out, it was hot, we were running late for Helen’s gymnastics class and we’d hit every red light on the way. It was creating stress I really didn’t need.
Having cleared the last red light, I then hit an unexpected traffic jam at a roundabout. Helen was hot and bothered and going on and on about wanting an ice cream.
Her gymnastics lesson was scheduled to begin that second. If she were 15 minutes late, the teacher wouldn’t let her join the class.
The traffic had been awful thus far. I knew we were about five minutes away and in the current driving conditions, there really was no guarantee I’d get her there on time.
I looked out of the window. There was glorious sun. I looked in front of me, there was yet more dreadful traffic.
I weighed up my situation. I was stuck in traffic in a confined space with two grumpy children and the traffic was awful.
The weather was gloriously sunny and hot and certainly not getting cooler. If we got there in five minutes, there would be a ridiculous rush at the other end as Helen quickly got into her gymnastics kit. Stress levels would simply increase if I continued this course of action.
There wasn’t even a guarantee I would get Helen there on time. She may not be allowed to join the lesson anyway.
I could carry on, driving myself into the ground having a thoroughly un-enjoyable time. Or I could take an alternative course of action.
I looked again at the traffic ahead of me. Eventually I got to the roundabout. Straight on for gymnastics and increased stress or left for home, a quieter life and happier children and, by default, a happier me?
I turned left. We went home and we ate ice cream.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I think we should take the path of least resistance. This was one such occasion.
We’ve had such a huge amount going on as a family recently. The kids were grumpy and I wasn’t in the best of moods myself.
Did I need to make them grumpier for a gymnastics lesson Helen didn’t even want to do (more about this in a future post)? I don’t get everything right as a dad. I make my mistakes but I do try hard. Sometimes, it’s best for everyone to just stop and take it easy.
After school my life is a whirlwind of logistics as I take kids to various activities. Despite my desire to cut down the number of activities the kids do, things have got worse with activities on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. After half a school term of this madness, I’d had enough and sacked it in.
Next half term, things will, thankfully, change. Two activities are going to drop off the list and so there will be no mad dashes after school on three nights of the school week. It will make for an easier life.
On that day, reducing stress levels for everyone was the correct thing to do. We all got to relax in the sun and life was much, much sweeter as a result.
Can you relate to this? Do you ever think: “No, today I’m taking it easy for my sanity”? if so, do leave a comment below. I’d love to know how you cope with things when it all gets that tiny bit too much.