So anyone who has had a kid knows that this whole parenting gig–when it’s not absolutely glorious (because it really is sometimes)–is stress-full! (And if you’re new to this blog and haven’t had a kid yet, you may want to check out my “Things You Know But Don’t Really Know Until You Have Kids” series just to get a little glimpse into the sort of things us parents are working with on a daily basis.)
One kid, two kids (red kids, blue kids) . . . it doesn’t matter. Once you become a parent, your stress level goes through the roof and there’s the (very good) possibility that you will become one big ole anxious ball of wreck. At least on the inside.
This stress, this anxiety . . . this havoc you could find yourself in . . . well, my friends, I think we need to put a name to it. And I’m proposing Post-Kid Stress Disorder.
Post-Kid Stress Disorder (PKSD) is a common anxiety and stress disorder occurring in individuals who have children. It typically begins once the parents learn they are expecting, although it may not be triggered until the baby’s birth, and can last well into their children’s adult years, if not throughout the rest of their lives.
Symptoms of PKSD can include, but are not limited to, a zombie-like appearance from lack of sleep and inadequate time to manage personal hygiene, eye twitching, high blood pressure, hair loss or graying hair, constant bewilderment at things going on around you, moderate to insane amounts of yelling, repeating the same things over and over again without being heard, fear of leaving your children unattended for more than 30 seconds, the inability to find 2 minutes to yourself, a possible (over)dependence on caffeine or chocolate (or wine or beer or other booze), a nagging feeling that you’re forgetting something, obsessively counting to three, corner rocking, and extreme manic tendencies around bedtime.
PKSD has been linked to the following causes: constant anxiety from the realization that you are responsible for keeping another human being alive (increases with the number of human beings you create); the inability to get a full night’s sleep; loss of meaningful contact with the outside world; spending a disproportionate amount of your time with people who require constant attention because they can’t talk, can’t walk, can’t feed themselves, and can’t wipe their own butts; having to watch entirely too much children’s television; impaired nutritional intake due to little people always wanting to taste your food.
There is no cure for PKSD; although symptoms usually lessen over time and may all but disappear around the time your kids move out of the house. (Although be warned that this will likely bring on a whole other set of concerns.) Unfortunately, PKSD is a pesky disorder that could hang around for the rest of your life.
There are palliative measures that you can take to decrease the effects of PKSD, however. These include, but again are not limited to, taking time for yourself as much as possible, laughing at all of the silly things in life (and the absurdities when you can), connecting with other parents, finding a good sitter and going out on a date every now and then, having dance parties with your kids as much as possible, playing the part of the tickle monster sometimes, letting your kids take the lead from time to time, mixing things up occasionally (like having ice cream for dinner), checking in on your kids when they’re sleeping peacefully…
Take the Quiz
If all of this sounds familiar, you may have PKSD. To find out for sure, you can take this quick 20-question quiz:
- Yes/No: (A) Do you scarf down your food or hide from your kids while you’re eating so that they don’t ask to for a “bite” of your food and end up eating it all? (B) Do you hide food from your children so that it doesn’t disappear after two minutes of them getting their hands on it? (C) Do you have to buy food in bulk so that there will be some left for you after your kids get their hands on it?
- Yes/No: Do you shower super quickly (oftentimes deciding between washing your hair and shaving) to ensure that your kids do not burn down the house or take a permanent marker to the furniture while they are left unattended?
- Yes/No: Do you always have to shop for clothes without tags? Socks without seams? Shoes without “scratchy parts”?
- Yes/No: Do you buy prized possessions in multiples in case something gets lost or damaged beyond repair?
- Yes/No: Do you gag a little every time you smell goldfish crackers and apple juice?
- Yes/No: Do you ever
bribereward your kids ahead of time for good behavior?
- Yes/No: Do you avoid toy aisles at all costs?
- Yes/No: Do you dread hearing your child say, “Look what I did”?
- Yes/No: Do you secretly wish Leo would just kick Caillou’s ass already for all of that whining?
- Yes/No: Do you say “5 more minutes” for at least 45 minutes?
- Yes/No: Do you ever pretend like you didn’t hear what your kid just said?
- Yes/No: Do you ever look like a spy avoiding laser beam alarm fields as you try to navigate your creaky floorboards while your kids are sleeping?
- Yes/No: Do you panic slightly on mornings when you wake up and discover you’ve had an uninterrupted night’s sleep?
- Yes/No: Do you now begin long road trips around your kids’ bedtimes instead of at the crack of dawn?
- Yes/No: Do you in fact cry over spilt milk?
- Yes/No: Do you ever find yourself brushing up on your Spanish with Dora and Boots despite the fact that your kids have been off playing in another room for the last 18 minutes?
- Yes/No: Do you ever wish your bathroom was in a sound proof booth?
- Yes/No: Do you approach all chocolate crumbs suspiciously?
- Yes/No: Do you dump out your drink after your kid takes a sip, no matter how full it is?
- Yes/No: Do you use words such as “toot” and “potty” and “booboo” among an otherwise normal adult-adult conversation?
Scoring: If you answered “yes” (or have ever been able to answer “yes”) to 1-20 of these questions, you very likely have PKSD. If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you very likely don’t have kids.
(A huge thank you to my husband for giving me the idea for this post and for providing me with some great examples. Also for reading my various drafts when he should have been studying for his boards or could have been sleeping. Love you, babe!)