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Sherri Richards, Published April 14 2014

Parenting Perspectives: Letting go of after-work at-home stress

The most stressful part of my day doesn’t happen in the office. It’s after I’ve punched the proverbial clock.

It’s trying to wrangle 2-year-old Owen into his car seat when he’d much rather run in front of oncoming traffic.

It’s trying to figure out what to make for dinner while navigating the mountain of laundry while fielding 20 questions from kindergartner Eve.

It isn’t until my “work” day is done that I really feel like I start working.

Because at the office, no one has to be told they can’t play in the dishwasher.

They don’t scream and flail on the ground when told “no.”

They don’t leave their things all over the office floor for me to step on.

I don’t have to protect any co-workers from accidentally injuring themselves, and I don’t have to clean up their feces.

All these reasons factored in to me returning to the office after Owen turned 2. Fact is, I enjoy working. And while I’m thankful I was able to cut back my hours and spend more time with my kids during their early years, there are certainly aspects of stay-at-home mothering I do not miss.

Now, however, I need to find ways to enjoy the hours I have at home more, too.

Trying to keep up around the house in fewer hours while also keeping my mischievous toddler safe and poky 6-year-old on task has left me with an ever-present tension in my shoulders.

When the weather finally warmed on a weekend, our family of four and furry companion went for a walk on the nearby bike path.

Between trying to keep both kids together and away from foot-deep puddles and out of the path of speeding bicycles, I was a ball of stress the entire time.

Something is wrong if a walk in the park is not a walk in the park.

And then there was our family movie night a few Fridays back. Instead of relaxing with Anna, Elsa and Olaf, I was shooing little eyes back from the screen, stopping little fingers from smudging and scratching the “Frozen” DVD, picking up rolling popcorn kernels and wiping up spilled soda – repeatedly.

Where’s the fun in that?

Mothering is a difficult job, but there’s got to be a better way to live outside the office.

I wonder if Eve’s new favorite movie doesn’t have some advice for me in its ubiquitous anthem “Let It Go.”

Let go of the stress and tension in my shoulders.

Let go of unreasonably high expectations for myself – for what my house should look like and how my children should behave.

Let go, let loose, and have some fun with my little ones.

Sherri Richards is mother to 6-year-old Eve and 2-year-old Owen and is Business editor of The Forum. She can be reached at srichards@forumcomm.com