5 ways to tell if your family is getting stressed out all the time

Whoever told us having kids is the most rewarding experience of our lives was probably drinking. A lot. Well, okay I exaggerate. The thing is, I wish they had also told us how hard it is to have a child and how much it changes you as person, and not for the better, as your child starts to grow into a person. The ever-present guilt a mother feels at never having done or given enough is as bad as the stress that comes handing grown kids and their forming personalities. As a parent, you already know that stress is as much a part of life as bedtime battles and picky eating. But what you may not realize is that your frustrations can impact your children's own stress levels, and before long, your once-peaceful house is filled with shouting, meltdowns, and one-word answers.

Here are seven ways of identifying that your family is stressed out

1. Sleep is a missing thing in your home

When your stress levels are at an all-time high, sleep is one of the first casualties. (Oh hello there, insomnia!) This lack of shut-eye can make you crankier, anxious, and, yup, more stressed. If you and your family are feeling the strain, put the kids to bed a half hour earlier and put yourself to bed a half hour earlier as well

2. Yelling matches are growing

Wondering if the pressure is starting to get to your family? Use your ears—oftentimes the more stressed we feel, the more we yell and fuss. Softening your own voice can help bring down the volume, as can taking a time out together.

3. You don’t eat together as much

Sad truth: When you or your partner are stressed-out and cranky, your older kid may skip out on mealtime to avoid talking to you. To make dinner more enjoyable again, try a trick used by family counselling experts. Have everyone write down something positive they observed about another family member and drop it in a basket in the middle of the table. During meals, pull from the so-called "compliment basket" and read the observations aloud. It can help kids look forward to meal time, and it's a great way to give praise for specific things, which is better than general praise.

4. Your child is withdrawing.

During times of high stress, some children shut themselves off from others. Older kids might lock themselves in their room more, for example, while younger ones may stop asking you to fun things.

Sound familiar? A check-in could be in order. Talk to your kids. Talk and keep talking. Keep the conversation open. And if you're stressed, say it—'I'm going to take a hot bath/ go for a walk/ read a book and chill out for a bit.' Problem-solve out loud so they know how you handle stress.

5. You're struggling at work.

Missed a deadline? Blew a major presentation? Stress may be the culprit, as it robs you of your ability to concentrate and stay organized. Identify your biggest pain points, and brainstorming solutions with your partner. If getting out the door in the morning is hard, for example, you may want to do more prep the night before for the next morning.

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