Parenting can be downright stressful and hard. Your kids have a lot of needs that need to be met and even more wishes and wants they’d like you to take care of. Before you melt down under the stress of parenting consider this simple advice; take care of yourself so you can take care of your family.
Parents and caregivers who pay attention to their mental, emotional and physical health are better able to handle the challenges that come with raising kids. Studies show those parents and caregivers adapt to changes, recover from setbacks and build stronger relationships. Studies also shown that parents and caregivers of children with developmental and mental health challenges are far more likely to experience; depression, anxiety, marital problems, fatigue and insomnia.
Any amount of time you can take for yourself is very important. Even five minutes a day can be a meaningful reminder of who you are in a larger sense. It can help keep you from becoming consumed by your daily or hourly responsibilities.
Here are some tips to practice healthy mental habits;
Notice the positive: When you take the time to notice positive moments in your day, your experience of that day becomes better. Write down one thing each day or week that was good, even if the positive thing seems minuscule it’s real and it counts and can start to change how you perceive and experience life.
Avoid the feeling of guilt: When you allow yourself to notice your feelings without judging them as good or bad, you dial down the stress and feel more in control. When you feel less stressed, you’re better able to thoughtfully choose how to act.
Set time aside for you and your spouse: Prioritize date nights! As parents it can be easy to forget that your relationship needs some attention too! Get a babysitter or call on the help of a friend or family member to watch the kids. Prioritize date nights or outings where it’s just you and your spouse or partner. It can also help to remind you why you’re together in the first place.
Revisit things you enjoy doing: Revisit the things you enjoyed before driving to soccer practice took over your life or discover a new hobby. You need an outlet to reset and reflect without the constant needs of your kids taking priority.
Accept there are limits to what you can do: The idea that you are the only one who can help or care for a child or loved one will cause burnout. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Avoid the feeling of isolation: Find a support network outside of your immediate family or spend time with friends who have no connection to your child.
You may feel like you don’t have time to mingle with friends or start new friendships. Try to focus on the long term. If you can meet up with a friend once a month or go to community event or something similar once every two months, it still helps keeps you connected. Being a parent is an amazing and important part of your life, but it’s not the entire story. Please keep in mind, some parents may need to consult a doctor or family physician in order to manage severe stress or to diagnose a more serious issue that needs medical attention.