This is a guest post from Bradley Barks....
Simple Tips for Stressed Out Parents
There’s no doubt about it, parenting is one of the most difficult jobs out there. There are many parents out there who feel an extra level of anxiety or pressure to be perfect. When you add extra stress to an already stressful task, it makes everything just that much harder. Often, parents will let their own needs suffer because they are focusing so much of their time and energy on their kids.
While it is great to spend time and money on your kids, and it’s very important you consider their needs, ironically, it often takes more focus on ourselves than we realize to set a good example for them. In fact, to be the best parent you can be, it is actually important that you take time to relax and enjoy your own life.
There are many reasons why taking care of yourself is an important step to becoming a better parent. Stress has secondary effects of transferring stress onto others around you. When you are severely stressed, you will often exude a stressful energy. Even if you are not speaking, your children, spouse, coworkers, and even your pets, will often feel anxious on your behalf. If you take time to de-stress, you not only make yourself happier, but make everyone around you feel safer and more comfortable.
When you are stressed, your children tend to worry about you if they’re old enough, and you may also have less patience with them. Do you really want to take out your stress on your children? Probably not.
Here are some tips to help you cope with and manage your stress in a healthy way so that it doesn’t negatively impact the lives of others, and so that you can enjoy your time with your kids even more.
1 - Take a breather. Even if you leave the room for 2 minutes, it is important to get time to yourself without noise or distraction. While you do not want to leave your kids unattended, you can also take a moment to collect yourself so that you don’t feel overwhelmed yourself. If you are not able to leave the room at the moment you need it most, try closing your eyes and taking a deep and peaceful breath. Often, this will prevent your stress from boiling over the breaking point.
2 - Have one day of the week or month where you just do whatever you want. Hire a babysitter or ask your spouse or trusted relatives to take care of your children for the day. Schedule time with your significant other, a day at the spa, or time with old friends who you never have time to talk to anymore. Remember, this day is just for you. It may help you to also keep your phone on vibrate, or check it every hour but leave it off for the rest of the time, so you can still be contacted in an emergency, but it will be less stressful when it rings.
3 - Use little moments to reflect on your experiences and write things down so you do not forget them. For example, even though you likely do not have much extra time to keep a journal or work on that novel, if you wake up an hour earlier or use the time you would normally spend waiting for the bus writing in your planner, you will feel like you are getting important tasks accomplished. It will also keep you from forgetting what you need at the grocery store, that funny thing your son said this morning, and whatever else you feel like keeping track of.
While you have every right to feel stressed, you also have no right to let it rule your life as a parent. It's similar to someone with an addiction. If the problem is drinking in that case, the parent owes it to both themselves and their kids to find some sort of alcohol treatment program. Similarly, when you take the time to write down your thoughts and attend to yourself in any way, you will be a much better role model, and have more emotional resources to share with your kids.