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Taking the Angst out of Raising Teens

Christine Pafumi
Oct. 25, 2012

One mom shares how she beats stress while living in a full house with three teenagers and one tween as part of the Care.com Interview Series

Living in close quarters with a big family, Liz Thompson appreciates the power of a moment to herself - even if that means hiding out in the bathroom. This Full House blogger found a moment to share a few tactics on how to de-stress, just when you think there isn't time for it. See how this mom lets it all out in twenty minutes and why she's thankful for a husband who is smart enough to hand her a cup of coffee before she can even open her eyes!

Tell us about your family.

I have 3 daughters (18, 16 and 11) and a 13 year-old son.

As a mom juggling kids, family and everything that comes with it, how do you generally handle stress?

My husband and I have this agreement: I don't sweat the small stuff and he's GREAT in handling pretty much any emergency. I also subscribe to the Phyllis Diller recipe for dealing with anger and frustration: set the kitchen timer for twenty minutes, cry, rant, and rave, and at the sound of the bell, simmer down and go about business as usual.

Tell us about your most common stresses? How have you dealt with them? Has it gotten easier/harder to deal with?

Raising a larger family, our kids have learned to share...well...pretty much everything...especially their father's and my attention. Over the years, I've grown used to running in four different directions and putting out dozens of little emotional fires that crop up during any given day.

Do you have any daily stress-busting rituals or routines? What are they?

My husband wakes up, makes me a cup of coffee, first thing, every morning and hands it to me before I've even had a chance to wipe the schmootz from my eyes. He's a very smart man.

There is no denying it - sometimes mom just needs 'me time.' Imagine that you have 30 minutes of free time to yourself. How do you spend it?

I'm lucky to be able to work from home while the kids are in school all day. However, it's hard to imagine 30 minutes where I'm not writing, throwing clothes into the laundry, cleaning or doing something productive with my time. So, perhaps, a 30-minute walk outside with the camera? Yeah, I could do that.

Is it hard to break away for a moment of relaxation for yourself? What is your trick for getting away and making time for mom?

Frankly, with 6 people living in a 7 room house, I'm not very good at being by myself. However, on those days when I do feel the need to run away, I suggest to my husband that perhaps it's time for a date night. Honestly, as a dad of 3 teens and 1 tween, I find that he doesn't take much convincing at all.

If you are in the middle of stressful day and there is nothing you can do to get a minute to yourself, what is your quick trick to de-stress in the moment?

Grab my Kindle and hide out in our library (a.k.a. the bathroom) for a few minutes. Anytime someone knocks, I make inappropriate sounds and then flush the toilet. Works wonders.

Do you feel that your stress can project onto the kids? How do you keep your own emotions in check?

There is no such thing as keeping my (or their) emotions in check. Keeping a sense of humor, on the other hand, is essential and my kids are pretty good at defusing emotional situations with a quick joke or quip -- me, too.

What have you learned about dealing with stress over the years?

I've learned to choose my battles when it comes to the stress of dealing with teenage angst. So, yes, my kid has blue hair and a nose ring (okay, the nose ring is still up for debate) because the trade-off (good grades, helping a sibling or mowing the grass without being asked, etc...) is totally worth it.

The kids are finally tucked in for the night - how do you unwind?

So I have this thing for romance novels, don't judge.

If you could share one stress-busting tip with other moms, what would it be?

Take the time to think about what is most important to you and your family. Focus on those things. As for the rest? Fuhghettaboutit! I'm from Jersey, enough said.

Liz Thompson started blogging at This Full House in 2003 as a way to connect with others beyond diapers and dust bunnies. Liz is featured on Alltop.com and was selected as one of Babble's 50 Best Mommybloggers. She lives in a full house in New Jersey with her husband, three teenagers, one tween and killer dust bunnies. Find Liz on Twitter and Facebook.

For more helpful tips, check out the Care.com Interview Series: Mom-Stress Busters ยป

Photo used with permission from Liz Thompson.

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