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Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Grandparents & Relatives Parenting Children
 

~ more about my personal dealings with stress~

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Along with losing weight and getting organized, stress management is one of the hottest topics in print. You can find out how to solve your stress problems every time you go to the grocery store, simply by picking up the latest magazine. If only it were really that easy.

Many times I have started reading books or articles about managing stress, only to become so irritated within the first few minutes that I would simply put it back down and walk away. They may have contained good ideas, but I would think, “Let’s get real.” It was obvious that the author was not a 50 or 60 year-old grandmother raising little children or even anyone raising little children for that matter. One author emphasized going to sleep every night at 10:00 p.m. and sleeping uninterrupted for 8 hours. That may be ideal, but it leaves no room for feeding an infant twice during the night, changing the bedding of the 4-year-old who wets the bed, or comforting the child who suffers from nightmares.

I was sensitive about the simplistic answer of getting a solid eight hours of sleep because when our three granddaughters first came to live with us, the baby, at two months old, weighed less than five pounds and was connected to a heart monitor. The monitor buzzed whenever she stopped breathing for a certain length of time or when her heart rate dropped too low. I would jiggle her to make sure she was okay and then reset the monitor. Along with getting up to check her and reset the monitor at all times of the night, I would feed her every 2 to 3 hours around the clock. This was my first experience with caring for a premature infant. Plus there were the occasional nighttime needs of the two year-old and four year-old that needed reassurance and comforting. My husband had the uncanny ability to sleep through almost anything, and fortunately for him when he did awake, he would roll over and go right back to sleep.

By the end of the first year, with the baby still unable to eat any solid foods or drink more than 3 oz of formula at a time, I was utterly exhausted. After the first 5 months, I finally had the two oldest children in daycare, and even though the youngest was off the heart monitor, she was unable to go due to her weak immune system. I hardly left the house except to go to the store or take the baby to her doctor or one of the many specialists that kept track of her. I had gained 20 lbs; I had dark puffy circles under my eyes; and I had jowls, my cheeks were sagging. Even my sister, who had not seen me for two years, admitted I didn’t look like myself. I went to my own doctor, had a thorough exam, and left discouraged. Nothing was wrong with me. Even menopause was inconclusive. I wanted this young doctor to find something that he could fix with a simple solution. But there was no simple solution.

By the end of the second year, life with the children had gotten much easier. We were so very fortunate that the baby, by then two years old, was a normal toddler. She finally walked, talked, ate a variety of healthy foods, and loved the children’s show “Dora.” Her immune system had improved, so she was able to go to daycare. She still got sick easier than the other girls, but she would be sick for a few days at a time rather than weeks, and she actually slept through the night on occasion.

One would think I would have felt a huge load lifted and be able to resume a normal energy level. But I could not. Even though the children were doing well, my home was in reasonable order, my husband was a good man, and I had business leads to follow up on, I was so very tired. I was so tired that I could not follow up on those business leads, or go to the health club that I had paid for, nor could I accomplish hardly any of the things that had meaning to me. I felt that I was about to break.

I continued to gain weight, and I could not sleep. I rarely got more than three to five hours of combined sleep a night. I was still getting up a couple of times a night with someone, and even when I wasn’t, I was waking up several times with severe hot flashes, anxiety, buzzing, pain throughout my body, and horrid dreams. My dreams had a common theme. I couldn’t get where I needed to get or do what I needed to do. I dreamt that I was either missing my plane, getting lost, or simply not able to accomplish what had to be done. Nighttime became a nightmare and was far more stressful than my daytime real life, and I seemed to have no control over it.  I also began experiences two to  three non-epileptic seizures a day. They were very frightening to me. I knew something had to change. Exactly what, I didn’t know. What I did know was that my life was out of balance, severely out of balance.

When my body quit gaining weight, it decided to go the other direction. I started losing weight without even trying. My sleep problems continued miserably and my weight plummeted. So back to the doctors I went.

After trying several different types of medication to help me either sleep or just feel better, the side-affects of the drugs seemed worse than the original problems. I then gained 60 pounds in 8 months. Now, I really didn't look like myself. Even the cashier at the grocery store, as she saw me shopping with three little girls and my teenager daughter Angela, asked me if I was going to have a boy this time. My eyes widened, I stared at her, and said, "Oh, I'm not pregnant." How embarrassing. Angela said, "Well, mom, at least she thinks you're young enough to be pregnant." Now I laugh about it, but it wasn't funny at the time to have gained so much weight, right around the middle, that I looked pregnant.

So off the meds I went. I lost the weight and was determined to get back to normal, whatever that meant. I am very natural and holistic health minded with years of experience in the past living a healthy lifestyle. So I knew I could get there again with effort.

So that is where I am at right now. Back to eating the way I know my body needs, getting more exercise, even if all that means is wearing my pedometer to see how far I have walked during the course of the day, and reading lots of natural holistic health material. I am currently planning a program to help other women  develop healthy lifestyles.

Awareness of our Thoughts and Emotions

Being aware that the thoughts we think create our emotions which in turn affects our reality. The more attention we give the emotions we don't want to feel, the more we feel them. The more we think and talk about what we don't want, the more we experience what we don't want.

Being aware of what we put into our bodies and what we put into our minds is just the beginning of dealing with stress and creating a balanced life.

It is important to understand the different affects of acute vs. chronic stress on our physical and emotional health. Our bodies were designed to deal and actually benefit from acute stress. However chronic stress, stress that just never goes away, can wreck havoc on our entire system. It contributes to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, fatigue, depression, and an over-all feeling of awfulness. Learning to deal with chronic stress, and sometimes changing our entire lifestyle choices, is something all grandparents raising grandchildren may need to do in order to live healthy lives.

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Grandparents raising and parenting grandchildren,  managing stress in parenting,  relative and kinship parenting, grandparents as parents, grandparents as foster parents, grandparents adopting grandchildren, parenting special needs children, stress management, the effects of stress, depression in children, ADD, attention deficit in children, RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, mental health and children, conduct disorder in children, Medicaid for children, Child Daycare, Grandparent Rights, Grandparents with legal custody, guardianship of grandchildren