Give Your Kids the Finger:  And other surprising ways to relieve parenting stress.

Sure, parenting stress could be relieved by taking a hot bath, indulging in a little progressive relaxation, or taking yourself to a two-hour yin yoga session. Here’s a little secret: no one has time for that.

Instead, my parenting stress is often relieved by driving thru the Krispy Kreme the instant the HOT light goes on and picking up a dozen fresh soft, meltingly-delicious glazed.  

Which only leads to more stress for me when I discover I look like I am wearing a giant squishy life preserver made of Krispy Kremes.

We Must Have Parents need stress relievers that can happen not only when we have time to ourselves(!!) but during that red hot stressful second. Here are three ways to relieve parenting stress you might use today:

1. Give your kid the finger.

“I would never hit my kids,” says the duck in the comic Fowl Language. “But I have been known to flip them off when they’re not looking.”

Preach it, brother. Brian Gordon, the creator of Fowl Language is the Gary Larson of parenting cartoons. (His new book can be found here.) His comics reflect the way kids do stuff that turn nice adults like us into total nutterbutters.  

That's why flipping your kids off behind their backs can be so effective.  Or at least it is for me. Somehow that primal gesture instantly restores me to my essential self—the teenager who used to flip off my mom behind her back. (Sorry, Mom.)

It also makes me laugh--which is key to getting back to parenting equilibrium for an MHP.

2. Silent scream

My middle kid was born with a special gift. He is a tornado. He is not 'like' a tornado. He is one. From birth he could turn around once or twice and bring forth complete and utter chaos in the amount of time it takes you to put the lid on a sippy cup. No lie.

That’s when I started looking like Expressionist painter Edvard Munch’s The Scream all the time. This is a look no amount of moisturizer will take away.  One of my MHP neighbors taught me that a theater exercise, the silent scream, is a great stress reliever.  You gotta try it.

Be sure you do not forget the hand gestures. That is the best part.

After you take a step out of the room to do a silent scream, you can get back in there and parent up with renewed energy. Cuz that is what your young tornado needs.

3. Ooo Jacey Breath.

In yoga, our instructors teach us to do Ujjayi breath—the ocean breath designed to calm and center you. Personally, I call it the Ooo Jacey Breath cuz that is what it sounds like they are saying to me. (You can call it the Ooo Roberto Breath. Or the Ooo Rebekah Breath. Or the Ooo addyournamehere breath.)

You can do this one in front of kids, especially while driving. I’ll do three of these when my anxiety/anger/irritation is getting to me.  

You essentially take a deep breath in and then let it out through your glottis. How often do you get to use your glottis, anyway?  You know you are doing it right when your inhale breath sounds normal and your exhale breath sounds like the ocean. Or Darth Vader.

Lately, my 13-year old has taking to Ooo Jaceying when I do it. I don’t know if he is getting the full benefit of the practice, or he is taking this as an audible sign he has pushed me too far, or if he is just mocking me. Does not matter. I feel better.  Read more about ujjayi breath here.

We Must Have Parents need instant ways to relieve parenting stress because our families are doing more parenting in less time.  

Do you have an instant way to relieve parenting stress that does not involve a Krispy Kreme?  Tell us about it in the comment section.