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Family Stress – What's Your Tipping Point?

Right now is a pretty crazy time of year for us – dance, dance, and more dance.  Recitals, practice, pictures, a different schedule each week – all part of the deal through early June.  And we have Memorial Day in there, which will change the work schedule for my husband and myself.  Good stuff, but all just on the edge of too much.

Today I spent time at school talent shows, dance practice, doing random errands, and an appointment.  In the midst of this a had a major schedule wrench thrown at me, right into the middle of the dance schedule frenzy.  Mmmmm…..the panic buttons started buzzing and flashing as soon as I figured out what this could mean.  The rescheduling issue would either involve this totally inflexible event or that other completely mandatory event.  Geez – which difficult day do I make worse?

It all turned out OK, found out there was a glitch on my calendar and nothing overlapped.  But for a short while, my head was in a whirlwind.  I had trouble thinking straight, scrambled to think of some people to help me out, imaging how this could all come together.  My nerves were noticeably jangled and I know I was irritable for a while, even after it was resolved.  It’s still a change from the original plan, but it doesn’t
affect much in the end.  Just when I thought I was handling my day pretty well, that last straw really showed I only had a fraction of an inch for cushion.

If this were occurring at an earlier time of the year, would I react differently?  Even just a less wild day?  Probably so.  If it had happened on a day I was home more, I would have probably felt more connected to my calendar and scheduling info.  As it happened, I just whooshed into the house after being gone almost all day.  If this had been during a time of greater calendar stability, like just a few weeks ago, I might have
not been so reactive.  Doesn’t change the fact that the schedule switch is somewhat irritating and last-minute.  Plus I am anticipating other things for the summer that have me a little anxious already.

Do you see how the foundation had been set before I even got the information about the change?  My mind was focused on “just keep everything moving on time, not much down time to regroup, can’t stop for long.”  It might not have taken hardly anything to get me upset with that racing in my head!  You know you’ve been there yourself.  The train of thoughts in your mind is going hard and fast, and suddenly there’s a cow on the
tracks dead ahead.  What now?

It can be tough to regroup when you have gone over your tipping point, whatever it might be.  Thankfully, the intensity of your reaction may not always match the true difficulty of the problem.  Recognize when you’ve gone over that edge, then do something brief but effective to bring you back down.  Take a few minutes of quiet time to collect your thoughts.  Do some brisk activity to get the blood circulating.  When was the last time you ate something healthy?  These things might not totally take away the tension you feel, but they can help steer you in the right direction.

Many a good parent have gone past their tipping point and come back.  It’s pretty normal, not the end of the world, but you don’t have to be prisoner to the stress and emotion.  What’s a recent example of something that set you over the tipping point of family or parenting stress?

Family Stress – What's Your Tipping Point?

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2009). Family Stress – What's Your Tipping Point?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 May 2009
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