When people ask me that question, “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?”, I usually spout out the same answer: “I’m Allison. I am a stay-at- home mommy of twin boys. I have a loving husband. I am an Independent Fitness and Wellness Coach. My degree is in education. I am a sister, an aunt, a friend.” What I typically do not say is: “Oh, by the way, I’m also agoraphobic and I suffer from panic disorder.” Huh? Say that again? Yup. I am agoraphobic. That can be kind of a tricky thing when you’re an at-home mom of twins. Raising children at home can present many challenges. Not only do I face challenges by being an individual with anxiety disorders, but also the challenges of raising two very rambunctious, very energetic, very sneaky, yet very lovable twins. So how the heck do I deal? Very good question, friends.
Before I delve into my methods of coping with kiddos around its helpful to understand how anxiety manages our life. You can use BetterHelp as a guide to understanding different anxiety disorders. Let me just define my anxiety disorders. Many people think someone who suffers from anxiety is just someone who worries all the time. Oh how I wish this were the case. Nope. Not. At. All. My special brain perceives danger when there is not really a danger there. I fear the panic. That is basically what agoraphobia is all about. I cannot drive long distances, I cannot fly, I panic in crowded areas like a mall, I have to have an aisle seat at any event I go to (if I even make it there), I’m terrified of being home alone (while husband is traveling), I cannot handle wide open spaces, etc. etc. etc. I can keep going.
Let’s add on top of all that my panic disorder. This is a fun one, let me tell you. Having panic disorder means at any moment, day or night, comfortable or nervous, I can have a major panic attack. They come out of absolutely nowhere. I’ve literally woken up to panic attacks. How uncool is that? Not cool at all, I would say. Now let us put the cherry on top of all of this, the fact that I am an at-home with twins. Hmmm. This is where it gets very tricky. What do I do if I’m on my own and I start to panic? Well after five years with the twins, I have certainly learned a thing or two. I’ve got some lovely methods that work very well for me. If you’re a momma who suffers from any type of anxiety, or if you’re a momma who is stressed out, these may work for you. Okay, let’s face it: all mommas get stressed out, so check out these coping mechanisms.
The Puppy Method
Now the title of this section can be taken in oh-so- many ways. No, I don’t shut my twins in a room with the dog, allowing the dog to handle things while I get my nerves under control. I also don’t make them constantly act like puppies to avoid all whining and sassing. (Although that is a thought.) What this method is really about is the breathing. When my anxiety spikes, breathing properly is incredibly important. It is crucial. I have to stop what I am doing and breathe in through my nose for ten and out through my mouth for ten. I use my core muscles to do this because breathing from my chest can increase my heart rate and put more pressure on my lungs. Not good for someone who already feels like they are experiencing a heart attack. Breathe with your tummy! I don’t want my kids to see me randomly breathing weird, so I taught them to breathe like a puppy. This was a direct recommendation from my therapist. When puppies are excited, they breathe fast.They pant. I have the boys pant like a puppy to show them fast breathing. That is the type of fast breathing I want to avoid. Then I show the boys how a puppy breathes when they are calm. Nice and slow breaths. I have them cup their hands in front of their face so they can feel the difference. If I need to calm my breathing, I just tell them we need to act like calm puppies. We’ve done this so many times now, that they just start breathing slowly. That way I can breathe slowly and no one is the wiser. There you go! Puppy method.
Yoga and deep breathing go hand in hand. Naturally when my boys are fighting like cartoon cats, I need them to chill. Their energy goes up, my anxiety goes up. Let’s just relax shall we? They each have their own yoga mat or you can just use a towel. Turn on the calming music and bust out some kid-friendly yoga moves. I can practice my breathing and get the twins calm. Win-win.
Yeah, that’s right. A dance party. Check out the site: gonoodle.com. This site has great kid-friendly music to dance to. When I need the twins to get their sillies out and I am ready to explode with frustration, we need to dance it out of us. I get to burn off some extra calories and have some fun doing it; they use up their energy and burn off whatever sugar they snuck when I wasn’t looking.
Coloring? As in, Crayola? Yes! You would be surprised how calming this can be. When we sit and color all together, they are content. I can sit there and focus on just staying between the lines. I let my mind go and don’t think of anything else but staying in the lines. Wouldn’t it be great if we could apply that just as easily in real life? Just stay between the lines, people.
Plug Them In
No, I am not talking about those darn video games. Nuh-uh. I’m talking about music. I have certain playlists on my phone/MP3 player that are just for relaxation. The twins each have their own headset, and I just plug them in and they will contently listen to music. This does wonders for me when I need a few moments of complete silence in order to gather my thoughts. I’m willing to bet it could work wonders for you as well. These are most treasured coping mechanisms that help this agoraphobic mommy deal with her issues and a set of twins. So from one stressed-out, anxiety-ridden, but loving twin-life momma to all of you: I give you my coping methods. I hope you find something that works for you and brings you that coveted moment of peace.
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