Showing posts with label Stress Management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stress Management. Show all posts

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Parenting & A Bottle of Ketchup


Parenting & A Bottle of Ketchup (Bonus post at the end)

Originally published on 09/22/2020 and Revised 04/21/2024

By: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez, Parent/Writer/Behavioral Health Specialist

Parenting is Hard Work! 

By: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez, Parent/Writer/Behavioral Health Specialist

Parenting is hard. Parenting is challenging. Parenting often knocks us sideways. Parenting needs a TEAM! World of Writer Mom loves TEAMWORK, even though I am really an introvert. I write way more than I talk sometimes. But you are ALWAYS welcome here. Please share this page. Please visit for posts about parenting, writing, and strategizing adult survival skills. I won't judge, preach, or get too sentimental. (Although my children will probably roll their eyes and laugh at that promise.) I have been known to share stories, be sarcastic, and squirt an entire bottle of ketchup on my kitchen floor just to get my children's attention. (That's a story for another time.)

I do share affiliate links but that is no obligation to you at all. I love to see the pretty boxes in my right sidebar. (Shiny, colorful beacons of quiet shopping opportunities created with introverts in mind.) I like to place promotions where they look great. If something happens to catch your eye, go ahead and take a look. Who knows...something may be interesting.

So, Parenting is hard. I already said that. But you don't have to feel alone! NOBODY is perfect, no matter how things look. Many of us drop a few "eff" words in moments of frustration. You are not doomed to damage your family if you're not 100% - 24/7 - 365 days out of the year. So, hang out here once in a while and ask me if I have a story for you to redirect those intrusive thought. And I will ask the same when needed OK? We have to take turns keeping the lighthouse lit, the boat afloat, the soup on the stove, the bubbles in our bath, the shine on our get the idea. Share your inspirational insights and let us know how you help contribute to Team Parent.

Here's the incredible "watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat" secret to this team. You might not even be a parent yet, but your contributions are no less significant. You may be the one that creates that "mom lit moment" when a parent is at their last portion of patience. Like the cashier at the drive-through window who smiles and encourages me to have a great day. Yes! Yes, Steve. I will enjoy this cheap ass sweet tea and remember you took a moment out of a busy morning of hash brown slinging and macfluffin egg sandwich presentations in that iconic brown paper bag to shoot me a smile and nod your head sympathetically as my cabbage headed children whine ominously in the back of my mini-van. (Insert breath to recover from my long-winded, run-on statement.) 

Come on, admit it. You know you were holding your breath! Who would have thought that parenting would require you to remember breathing! But there it is...that ache in your neck, the tension in your shoulders, and the sudden light-headed sensation that reminds you breathing is not always automatic. 

Here's a suggested post to get you started if you haven't read one yet: (Oh, wait. This is a post. So, here's another for you when you need a moment for yourself.) Thanks for reading, sharing, and commenting. I look forward to sharing more mom moments with you. (The name "mom" is literally the first part of moments.) 

Bonus Post

This is the story about how I used a $2.99 bottle of Heinz Ketchup to redirect my three children one day when they were arguing, loudly violating personal space, and just not responding to my love and logic parenting efforts. I was stressed for so many reasons, including what I was going to make for dinner that evening. No amount of de-escalation or requests to, "Hey, come help mom in the kitchen! I'd love to spend some time with you!" were making a dent in their armor of discord and doom.

Now full disclosure, I worked for many years in early childhood development, studied behavioral challenges and remediation strategies, and understood every bit of where each of my three children were developmentally.  IT DOESN'T MATTER!  That's all I can tell you. Ok, maybe it matters a little bit and gives your children a prayers chance that you will have an extra assortment of patience, skills, and creative ideas. But working in child development isn't the "get out of parenting hell free" card that you might think it is. It simply gives you perspective, and that perspective led me to what I am about to disclose to you.

I needed immediate response and resolution to the chaotic toddler frat house environment my children had so openly created.  Not sure what inspired me to open the refrigerator with the next scream I heard, but I had to do something to stop the throbbing in my head, and anxiety in my chest, and the fear that my children and I would remain locked in this moment forever.  I reached for a full bottle of Heinz Ketchup, the best kind, because it was the one thing I couldn't bring myself to buy as a store brand. 

I hugged that cold bottle of ketchup and sat on the floor facing the wall, with just enough space in front of my body to release that beautiful red condiment onto the floor. I started in swirls from the outside inward and then held the bottle in the middle as I proceeded to empty the container, all the while reciting a spontaneous combination of a prayer/incantation/cry for help into the universe:

"We're like this ketchup bottle. We just keep adding on and adding on to our mess. 
We open up our problems and allow them to spill out onto the floor.
It just makes more stress. 
Nothing gets solved by making more of a mess."

I'm honestly not sure what else may have been said in that moment of needing to redirect my children, but soon all three of them surrounded me. There was a mixture of amusement and concern while I continued to empty the bottle onto the kitchen floor. I have to admit, it was calming. It was mesmerizing. It changed the energy in the room. My daughter looked at her brothers, and said, "Do we need to call someone?"  Soon we were all sitting on the floor, talking about how we can be kinder to each other, and discussing how we can help each other when we're feeling stressed. Then we cleaned up the ketchup together and made dinner for the evening. 

So, this is not one of your conventional parenting techniques, and you will never find it in any child development best practices book. But it did create a memory that we still talk about, even though my children are now older and entering young adulthood. And we still use Heinz Ketchup as our preferred condiment for burgers, hotdogs, and fries. Now, we have our family story to add to our fondness for this addition to our recipes.

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