A touch of structure

Last week I wrote about the troubles I've had with my thyroid over the past few months. I believe it is safe to say that increased anxiety has by far been the most difficult symptom to manage. As a mother, my anxiety levels are a bit higher than they were pre-kiddo, but now that stressed out feeling is pumped up to the max. We are constantly trying to find ways to help mellow out our home, thus helping me to chill as well.

One thing I started during the day is putting an effort into creating a little bit of structure, especially in our afternoon. The winter months can be so difficult without an outside space to explore as the days seem to drag on and on. Addie's nap times have shrunk by about half so that extra period left me feeling trapped, bored and exhausted.

To be brutally honest, during that first month of feeling terrible, I turned to the television to fill our time. That solution quickly became toxic, as it seemed to feed behavioral difficulties and put a negative energy into the house. Finally I decided that the TV needed to go off. All afternoon. No matter what. It was scary to let go of such an addictive crutch, but the results have proven highly successful. Our tantrums have decreased (mine and Addie's), our house feels so much more calm, and (the very best part) we are discovering creative ways to use our time.

So after nap, we spend a little quiet time waking up, usually reading books or just sitting quietly together, and then we have a craft time. Glue projects with pom poms, feathers, googly eyes and construction paper, brush painting, and my absolute favorite--finger painting.

It's Addie's favorite too.

She loves getting her hands covered in the wet, colorful paint and since it's washable, I feel free to let her go and create whatever she likes.

She gets so into it, it's quite a serious business.

Once she's finished with her art project, we clean up, grab a snack and move back into the living room because then it's music time. The Disney station on Pandora has become my new best friend, and hers too. We could sit together for hours just guessing what the next song will be and dancing. Add in a little coloring, putting puzzles together, playing with Lena--all to our favorite kid-friendly tunes, and before I know it, it's time to make dinner.

Of course, flexibility is the key to keeping any stress level down and that is something I'm always working on. A fussy baby or staggered naps can throw off even the best laid plans, so even though things don't always work out as I'd like, at least attempting to carve out space for music and art in our day leaves my girls more well-rounded and me more sane. Most days that means everybody wins.


Kerry said...

We have had the same problem correlation between t.v. and behavior. It is much more limited now. Your afternoons sound really nice. Good for you for finding what works best for all of you! Still keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

em said...

I love the nemo band-aid. Miss this little lady...