Ask 1099 Mom: How Can You Handle the Stress of being a Work-at-Home Mom?

I've done it.

I've completely flipped out on my poor kids, snapping at something dumb (like where they put their shoes, or how their plates never end up in the sink, or even over how loud the TV can get.)  It's usually nothing they've really done.  It's usually my level of stress that has put me into an intolerant mode, and I can't handle even the smallest inconveniences.

When this happens, I know it.  I feel bad, but I struggle to stop it.  It's during these times that I'm usually trying to meet a deadline, figure out a bill payment, or have received a disturbing client email that needs my attention.  None of these things, however, would have been any more pressing had I walked away for five minutes.  None of them.

I have learned, rather reluctantly, that there are five steps to getting myself under control and avoiding a massive meltdown that could scar the kids for at least a few days.  They go something like this:

1.  Stop what you're doing.  I mean it.  Really.   If you are typing, or talking on the phone, or reading emails, or anything at all, stop it.  It won't go anywhere, I promise.

2.  Turn and look at your kid.  Physically move that body around in your chair, or better yet, get up and walk over to them.  Get down on their level (your knees if need be), and look them square in the eye.

3.  Breathe.  This is the easiest way to get a grip, and yet I never seem to do it.  I'll hold my breath until blue before I grasp how easy it is go take a good, deep, belly full of air.  Do it twice, if you think you need it.

4.  Force a smile.  Yeah, I said it.  Tell your emotions (however frantic they may be) to shut the heck up for a few and crack a grin for your kid's sake.  It will actually end up benefiting you.

5.  Tell your kid, "I love you.  What can we do to get you taken care of so Mommy can work?"  It's that simple.  Repeat it over and over in your mind, so that when the situation arises, you can blurt this out with little thought.  Kids will stop screaming, coloring on the walls, or chasing the cat.  They just wanted Mommy all along, after all.  Now that they have your attention, you can work out whatever it is that they need.  You can ask them to turn the TV down.  You can get them a drink of water.  You can assure them the you are HERE for them, and you can get back to work.

Total time taken away from your job = 5 minutes, tops.
Total time saved by not having to be distracted, frustrated, and horrible to your kids = perhaps an hour or more.
Total trust you've suddenly allowed your children to experience, love you've encouraged to grow, and minutes given back to your pre-heart attack life = gobs and gobs

What are you tricks and tips for keeping sane?  I don't think they are all that complicated, are they? (Perhaps they are just a matter of stepping away and seeing things for what they really are.)

*Photo by Samael Kreutz via Flickr 

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