Family Stress

Young children with backpacks getting on school bus

Five Stress-fighting Back-to-School Tips

Young children with backpacks getting on school busit really be that time again? It seems like just yesterday I was writing about tips for a stress-free summer, and now back-to-school time is here with a whole set of new stresses.

While it’s natural for any time of transition to be stressful, there are steps you can take to lessen the toll on yourself and your family. Here are five tips that can help.

1. Accept Imperfection

It’s tempting for parents to try to make every childhood memory perfect for their kids. You can get so caught up in creating the perfect Christmas, the perfect birthday, and even the perfect first day of school that you forget to enjoy the moment for what it is.

Go ahead and set the bar a little lower. Those first days back at school, someone will probably forget a lunchbox, burn the classroom snack cookies, lose a permission slip or leave the house in mismatched socks. This is OK. Cut yourself some slack.

2. Call a Family Meeting

Be sure to keep it short, but everyone needs to be on the same page about new morning routines, schedules and responsibilities. Let kids know what to expect, and get their input, too. Keeping everyone informed can prevent meltdowns and unpleasant surprises in the future.

3. Remember Last Year

While you’ve got everyone together, take some time to reminisce about the last school year. Bring out photos and yearbooks. Talk to your kids about their good experiences from school and ask what they’d like to do this year. Thinking about the good times is a good strategy for combating depression and making this stressful time easier to take.

4. Don’t Over-schedule

Back-to-school time will also see the start of extracurricular activities like dance lessons, martial arts, youth sports or Scouts. Especially if you have a large family, scheduling everyone’s activities and transportation, plus making sure the family is fed and homework done, frankly, it’s a nightmare.

Encourage your kids to pick their favorite one or two activities and limit or ditch the rest. Also, don’t pressure your kids to do everything. That only leads to a stress for the whole family.

5. Take Time for Yourself

Parents, and moms especially, tend to ignore their own needs to provide for their kids. While this is the nature of parenting, you can go overboard. Be sure to take time to fill up your own reserve of self-care. If you don’t, you run the risk of running empty. A long, hot bath with a good book, taking in a movie by yourself, or getting a relaxation massage can all help you de-stress and restore your inner balance.

Man kissing his girlfriend on forehead

9 Ways to Reconnect With Your Partner

After you’ve been in a relationship for a while, you’re likely to encounter a time when you feel less connected to each other than you did at the beginning of your relationship. It’s a rut that is easy to get into, especially when family obligations have you running in different directions. However, it’s not something you should let go on for too long.

Everyone falls into certain patterns that are comfortable. But, by breaking out of your comfort zone every so often, you’ll experience a sense of newness and reconnection in your relationship.

It’s important to seek out that certain spark you felt when you first got together with your partner. Those feelings are still there, you just might need to be creative in finding ways to bring them out again.

Here are some ways that you can reconnect with your partner and keep your relationship strong:

  1. Go out of your way. Remember at the beginning of your relationship how you would go out of your way to make your partner extra happy? Make these efforts again! It’ll surprise your partner and be a reminder about how much you love them.  It doesn’t have to be an everyday thing, but everyone deserves a little “above-and-beyond” treatment!
  2. Show your gratitude. You often think to yourself how grateful you are that your partner did something for you, and it’s important to let your partner know of your gratitude, too. You can do this through better communication and positive actions. Many times a simple, “Thank you for…” statement will let him know how much you appreciate his efforts.
  3. Be considerate. Sometimes your partner is the only one who will allow you to be blunt and abrupt. It’s important to vent, but remember to act considerate around your partner as much as you can.
  4. Spend time alone together. Everyone is busy, but you need to make the extra effort to have alone time together. It’s still important to make dates with each other and do things you’ve never done before.
  5. Show affection. There are certainly ways to show your affection for your partner beyond bedroom activities. Show your love for each other with gentle touches and hugs. Snuggle together on the couch and just enjoy the closeness.
  6. Seek adventure. Everyone has his or her own definition of adventure. You and your partner may even find different things adventurous. Do some of these activities together. Engaging in exhilarating activities can certainly ignite the passion.
  7. Share your goals. Keep an open conversation with your partner about your future plans. Things may not always go according to plan, but it’s good to talk about your dreams and goals. While it’s fun to discuss what things were like at the beginning of your relationship, it’s also enjoyable to discuss where you think things are going.
  8. Surprise! Surprise your partner with a gift. It doesn’t have to be something expensive; in fact, you could even make it yourself. Just explore some thoughtful ideas that will let your partner know that you care about them.
  9. Book a Couples Massage. Spend time relaxing with each other, by getting a couples massage. It’s a great way to reconnect and spend time together.

You’ll find it’s easy to stay connected to each other as long as you make an effort to do so. Communicate well, spend time together, and explore new activities together. When you do, you’ll discover the keys to a successful, passionate and connected relationship.

Was this helpful? What do you do to reconnect?

Man and woman skydiving

5 Ways To Reduce Relationship Stress and Have a Little Fun

One of the biggest causes of relationship stress for women entrepreneurs is the tendency to say no to your partner more often than you say yes.

When you get caught up in running your business, it’s easy to slip into the habit of taking your relationship for granted.

You can reduce tension and stress in your relationship by making sure you take time to spend quality time with your partner. The ability to relax and have a good laugh together will go a long way toward keeping the good feelings flowing between you.

Man and woman skydiving

Here are five ways you can infuse a little fun into your relationship:

  1. Take a day off and spend it together.Schedule a day to take off from work and other tasks. Rediscover the love and frolic in your relationship by spending the entire day alone together. Behave as if you don’t have anything else to do but look into each other’s eyes.
  2. Let your playful side out.Do fun, lighthearted things together like hold hands when you’re shopping or taking a walk. Laugh out loud. Who doesn’t feel drawn to a person that makes them laugh and laughs with them? Remember when you used to play games together when you first started dating?
  3. Have a picnic.

    Pack food and beverages and take off to a nearby park. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate feast – just something simple for lunch that you can munch on while talking and savoring the wonders of nature. Having such picnics once a month or so as long as the weather permits will encourage you to share special feelings.

  4. Take one evening a week off from working.

    Turn off your computer, your phone, and the television, and spend an evening together. When you unplug just one evening a week, it can open up so many possibilities to bond and have fun. Discuss how you could spend this extra time together. You’ll discover more about what your partner enjoys.

  5. Dance with each other.

    You’ve probably got an MP3 loaded with music you love. Turn it on and dance together. Most people find dancing to be one of the most physically intimate, fun activities to do together. You’ll definitely connect emotionally when you dance.

The main point of this is to focus on the pleasure of your partner’s company.  Ensuring you have fun together will deepen your relationship in more ways than you can imagine. It will also go a long way to re-opening lines of communication and help to reduce relationship stress that may have built up while you were building your business.

The Sandwich Generation: How to Live in the Middle

sandwich generation, baby bommers, stress relief, taking care of parents, burnout, resentmentThe Sandwich Generation is a growing population of highly stressed people that care for both children and parents. According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent. The first year of Baby Boomers turned 65 in 2011, joining the senior population stress is on the rise. The US Census Bureau notes that the number of older Americans age 65 and older will double by 2030 to over 70 million. The Sandwich Generation stress level will only grow.

Baby boomers have their own unique set of stressors as the Sandwich Generation. Juggling time and squeezing everything into their day just skyrockets stress. The one thing that suffers is their health and self-care.  The Stress in America Survey 2011 revealed caregivers are more likely than those in the general population to state they are doing a poor to fair job at several healthy behaviors, including managing stress and getting enough sleep. The survey also reveals caregivers report being in poorer health than the rest of the nation, with higher rates of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weight issues and depression.

Are you borrowing from your health?

Day in and day out poor self-care draws from your resources. Skipping meals, lack of sleep, working long hours and lack of relaxing activities takes a toll on your health. When stressed, you focus on what immediately needs done. Seeing the big picture doesn’t necessarily happen due to chemical responses in the body. The caregiver places more responsibility in caring for others first. What time might be leftover is spent on meeting your needs, which may not be much. These poor self-care responses affect your future health, according to recent studies.

The Sandwich mindset.

Baby boomers were raised to pitch in and work hard to get the job done. However, it’s important to realize that the demands of today are much different than the 1930’s when your parent was young. Still it’s really tough to let go of deeply engrained beliefs about work ethic. Many Baby Boomers were raised to work hard until the job is done. If not careful, this mindset can lead to overwork and inevitably making not so healthy choices.
Your approach to caring for your parents and children might seem the same at times but it’s not. They are in two different life phases. Children are growing and reaching for independence while aging parents are holding onto their freedom. It’s important to be aware and present when caring for your children or parents. Mixing the two approaches can certainly increase your stress level.

It’s time to take care of you.

The sandwich generation wants to do the best they can caring for both children and parents. Setting boundaries for self-care can be difficult. Both saying no and asking for help is needed so your health will not become a problem. Overextending yourself is a guarantee that burnout and resentment are not far behind. Giving you permission to say no and finding support and resources can make a difference. Self-care time is first, like placing the oxygen mask on you in the airplane before others. Basics, such as meals, sleep and relaxation time will keep you fueled to properly deal with stress. You will deal with situations totally different when you have sleep and nutrition on your side.

Family eating meal together

Four Ways to Reduce Family Stress

“A family in harmony will prosper in everything.” – Chinese Proverb

Family enjoying meal at homeRaising a family is no easy task to say the least. Family member have so many activities, interests and responsibilities that fill the day. The result can be miscommunication and a whole bunch of stress-filled days. You might hear:

“I told you I was going to _____.”
“You said it was OK that I stayed overnight.”
“I told you weeks ago we had a party to go to tonight.”

The confusion and keeping connected with everyone in your family can be so stressful. So how can you communicate more effectively and reduce you stress?

Keep Connected with Your Kids

Listening is an extremely important tool to really connect with your children. The idea is to be a source of support for your child. Finding creative ways to be an active part of their lives can be a challenge, especially if they push you away.

Communicate with your kids while they’re at home. Talk to them face to face and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You might be surprised at how they respond. At first it may seem uncomfortable. Keep clear lines of communication and keep a routine to follow as much as possible.

Communication with Your Partner or Spouse

Discover your partner’s style of communication. Listen to your spouse’s feelings carefully, as this will often give you ideas about how you can effectively connect. Your partner may really enjoy spending time cuddling or having a date night with you on a weekly basis. There are so many ways to connect, which will keep your relationship alive

Spend Quality Time with Your Family

Another big stress on today’s family is not spending enough time together. This is most likely because everyone is so busily involved in other activities that you barely have time to yourself, let alone one another.

Set aside at least one day out of each week and deem it family day or game night. Spending quality time with your family shows that you’re truly interested in what they’re doing and that you care about them.

Make time for your spouse or partner. Alone time is important for all marriages so you can continue to strengthen your relationship and explore one another’s dreams for the family. Make sure your family enjoys meal together as much as possible. Another idea is to set a certain time aside each week to talk about important issues. Just stay connected.

Manage Financial Issues

Financial problems are major source of stress in families today. Budgeting money and actually staying within your means can be really tough. This is where communication becomes important. Setting clear expectations about bills, recording money, planning major purchases are important in communicating about finances. No one likes money surprises.

Begin to include your children about money as it’s age appropriate. You can teach good money skills as well and prepare them for the world. Children need to know that money must be earned and that your debit or credit card isn’t somehow filled with money.

Incorporating these ideas into your family life will help you have a more open relationship with each family member.

Family Stress: How to Make Your Home a More Peaceful Place

“Having a place to go – is a home.  Having someone to love – is a family.  Having both – is a blessing.”  ~Donna Hedges

Everyone deals with family stress. Home is a place where you dream of having peace and rest. The biggest problem with this type of stress is that it stays in your home, where you want to spend your time relaxing. However, stressful schedules, activities and illness can cause undue stress. The effects of high stress can result in sleeping problems, feelings of exhaustion, arguments and other negative effects for everyone in your family.

Even though you may be experiencing a lot of family stress right now, there are things you can do to bring about peace and harmony in your home.

Here are some tips to help you reduce your family’s stress:

1. Look at unrealistic expectations. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your home will always be stress-free. We all know this never occurs. Even though you really love everyone in your family, sometimes life at home can be stressful. It's also important for you to avoid the expectation that your family is perfect or that your children will always behave. Everyone is human; everyone makes mistakes. Be prepared for this, and you'll get rid of much of the stress in your home.

2. Admit when you are wrong.
When you don't admit your mistakes, you cause resentment among your family members and more stress. Do the right thing; admit and apologize for your mistakes. This reduces stress and teaches your children a valuable life lesson. As Maxwell Maltz said,” You make mistakes. Mistakes don't make you.”

3. Spend more time with the family. Spending more time with the family is a great way to alleviate family stress. Eat dinner together as regularly as possible. Taking the time to eat together and share the meal can be a great way to talk, laugh, and get rid of some of the stress in your home. Many families eat dinner separately, or in shifts between activities. If you eat dinner this way too many times in a week, you can be easily disconnected from what’s happening in your family’s lives.

4. Check your expectations. Remember, you're not a super hero. Even though you may want to get everything done, it's not always going to work out. Making the effort to be there for everyone all the time is important. Be easy on yourself when the to-do list doesn’t get done. Putting huge expectations on yourself is likely to cause you to live a stressful life full of disappointment. Allow yourself to be a person rather than a super hero, and you'll find the time to relax and take pressure off of you.

5. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Treat your family with respect, serve your family, and shower them with kindness. This will start a trend in the family of treating others in the way you want to be treated. Say “thank you” and “please” as an example to all. When you start incorporating kindness into your family life, your family’s moods will lift, you’ll enjoy your time together, and the stress within your home will melt away.

The actions you take to overcome your family stress may take a little practice to become second nature, but soon you and your family will enjoy being around each other more.

For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives. Lisa specializes in stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.


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