My husband's car, which we just invested a couple grand in back in the Spring with hope it could last a couple more years, went kaput. Both of us are working a lot, and let's just say that while we're glad for employment, the dollar doesn't stretch like it used to. Due to emergencies like the car, some of the less pressing "need to dos" for our house keep getting pushed further down the priority list, which is a bit of an issue. You know, life. Life is a little rough around the edges for a lot of us.
As adults, we're more or less equipped to deal with it. Age brings perspective, and if you're lucky, a good set of tools and community to lean on while dealing with it.
Kids don't have this, though.
It's hard to say no to kids about things you once said yes to. It's hard to cut things from their lives that you all once enjoyed. You know it's a good example, and the right thing to do, but that doesn't make it easy.
It actually adds to the stress, the stress you are trying to keep from them.
Kids can have a natural obliviousness, but they can also have a sharp perception.
What I think I've noticed most of all with our kids, as we navigate through the current choppy waters and "crisis management fire fighting" stage we're in, is that our kids are aware that we're stressed and that there are some challenges, but they remain light-hearted and typical of themselves. When I puzzled over this, I decided the truth is, they have what they need and they trust that we (me and my husband) will manage it. They see us working at solutions, and taking breaks to do things such as build a tent in the playroom for fun or watch a movie while eating ice cream out of the carton -- together.
I don't think you can really keep stress from kids, but I do think you can make it a sort of "not their problem" deal so they don't get stressed out themselves.