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After a long day at work or school, what are your favorite ways to wind down and decompress?

Veg out, basically. but I’m retired, so except for the daily work I have to do, including writing, I don’t really have many long, stressful days. If and when I do, I nap — I just need rest after a really busy day, like substitute teaching, spending time with the grandkids, getting ready for a party or having people to dinner, or just a busy running-around day. It also find a quick nap quiets my anxiety and over-active mind. I find reading and playing computer games very relaxing, too.

You know how people say you won’t remember the pain of childbirth after you see your baby (which my daughters tell me is a lie — I had 4 C-sections), well, I don’t think I remember how exhausted and spent a mother (or father) can feel when dealing with little children, especially multiple toddlers/babies. A recent Saturday when I watched three grandchildren (2, 4, 5) I was exhausted by the end of the day! I remember that with my own children I got tired, that I got frustrated, that I got angry sometimes, but I can’t remember how it felt. I watch my daughters with their young children and the household tasks they have to do, and I wonder how I ever did it! I think for several years, a new parent is sleep-deprived. It’s not just when you have a baby waking up during the night, it’s the waking-up-in-the-night children, the bad dreams, the “I can’t sleep” nights, the tasks that have to be done before a parent can go to bed. It more than challenging.

While I empathize with the stay-at-home mom, I think it’s hard on the dads, too. They’ve had a long day at work, and while they want to spend time with their children, there’s rarely break time between being the bread-winner and the arriving-home dad who is immediately inundated with things the kids want to tell him; they’re like bees on a flower.

I really don’t know the answer to how parents of young children can unwind and the end of a “work day”. I think it’s probably a good thing to have date nights, but that’s somewhat dependent on money — hiring a trusted babysitter, and paying for whatever they do together. Perhaps sitting the kids down in front of the TV for 30 minutes while the husband and wife have some time alone (while cooking dinner!) is a possibility.

Obviously when the children get older, later in elementary school, they become less dependent on their parents, and aren’t as apt to attack dad with a deluge of information when he gets in the door. Put then, of course, there are more activities, practices, homework, etc. And making and cleaning up after dinner every single day!

If a glass of wine feels good, that can be pleasant, as long as it doesn’t become to pleasant, too frequently. And quite honestly, if it’s too relaxing, it just makes it harder to get through the pre-bedtime routine. Perhaps a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood for everyone right before or after dinner is could be relaxing. My poor son-in-law reads to his kids once they get into bed to calm them and prepare them for sleep. More than once, he’s the one who’s relaxed to the point of going to sleep before they do!

Someday they’ll be retired and will recall, as I do, the best memories of raising children.