I used to love those sand-filled stress balls. Mine broke, and I never got around to replacing it. I was desperate for one during my hours of labor. The foam one my well-meaning mom brought me just didn’t give me the right feel I was looking for, one in which I could get some resistance to every squeeze, in sync with my contractions.
The other day, Choo-choo and I were playing Play-doh on our living room floor when I happened upon something surprising. A handful of Play-doh or similar compound offers the same stress-relieving qualities as my old favorite stress ball. Choo-choo and I played for an hour, making green “peas,” “cookies” (with my plastic Easter cookie cutters), and rings. Any time I felt the tiniest bit annoyed or stressed–such as when Choo-choo wouldn’t wait for me to fix the clog in his Play-doh press before shoving more in–I grabbed a handful of dough and squeezed.
I enjoy similar benefits when kneading dough or rolling it out for cookies or pie crust, only this time I didn’t have to worry about handling it so delicately. I was so relaxed by the end of the hour that I was ready for a nap. (Unfortunately, the same could not be said of Choo-choo even though it was actually his nap time.)