Sometimes you read an article that is supposed to help you lower your stress by finding ways to function better—at least that is the title of the article but as you read it you start to get a sneaking suspicion that the point is actually to increase your stress so that you keep reading the magazine for solutions.
Which is exactly what happened when I read this Redbook article. Researchers spied on 32 families for four days to figure out how families with two working parents and two kids function. And then they came up with some guidelines on how the low-stress families (read: happier) families did it.
The researchers distilled the findings into some commonalities between the low-stress families. When reading over the Seven Secrets of Low-Stress Families it is hard not to compare yourself to their functional examples and of course you come up short. Here are the findings compared to my family:
1. Low-stress families don’t divvy up the chores. Well that’s true in my house, other than the buying and cooking of the food my husband does most of the housework. (Plus, we have a part-time nanny.) So is that divvying up the chores or not? Do we get a point there or not? I can’t tell. This point is actually less about the chores than about the teamwork aspect of the couple. the couples who did not use sarcasm as a main communication tool seemed to be considered “low-stress”. Oh, well stress is good. No point for us.
2. Low-stress families find small moments of togetherness. I’m giving myself a point for this one since it mentions reading a bedtime story. Oh no, major fail on kids stopping video game to say hi to Dad. Ok, half a point
3. Low-stress parents are role models – not pals. My husband will be very happy to read that since it seems to confirm how he would like the family to run with him in charge and the kids doing his bidding. But still not rewarding myself a point since my kids only help set the table when yelled at repeatedly.
4. Low-stress families make dinner from scratch: Yey. I get this one. Oh, but then they mention the kids helping cook and then eating what they cooked. I’m keeping the point because that is definitely true for the brownies we made yesterday (but not for the chicken my daughter and I made today).
5. Low-stress moms take five minutes of me time. This seems to be really about taking time to unwind from your day at the office. Since my office is my house or the coffe shop I don’t think I qualify. And my husband does take five minutes for himself in the evening it is just usually in the middle of bedtime when I could use his help so I would give us the point if he took five minutes when he walked in the house. But he doesn’t. And the guy could definitely use some me time – 5 minutes and 5 hours.
6. Low-stress families watch TV together. Woo Hoo. Double the points!!
7. Low-stress families embrace daily rituals. This point is really about connecting daily with your kids (and each other). Since I have three kids I will give myself three points for making an effort to appreciate them daily through a word, or a touch or a kiss. Too bad they don’t always appreciate it.
I’m adding this one in.
8. Low-stress families don’t keep score. We are all doing the best we can.