To say that parenting is hard is a massive understatement. It's physically and emotionally draining, there is no such thing as paid time off, and your good work often goes without reward. It's easy to feel stressed out when you're totally and completely responsible for another person's well-being. But the key is to not let that stress overwhelm you or interfere with your daily activities. There are effective ways to cope with parenting stress, that can help you get through the day (and night) without completely losing your cool.
It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to be a good parent is to make sure you take good care of yourself. Maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate rest, and squeezing in some exercise can give you the energy you need to tackle the dirtiest diapers or the toughest homework assignments. It can also help to find friends, relatives, or even a mental health professional to listen and help you put everything in perspective. But most importantly, remember to go easy on yourself. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, and most of the job requires you to learn and reevaluate as you go.
So if parenting has you stressed out, try some of the tips on this list to help you whether the storm and find a little more joy in the job.
1. Get Your Rest
Family therapist, Susan Stiffelman wrote on Huffington Post that parents should get as much sleep as possible to be better equipped to cope with stress. Although it may be difficult to get a full eight hours at night, take advantage of your child's nap time and catch a few quick Zs yourself, if possible.
2. Just Say "No"
You don't have to bake something for every bake sale, or drive every carpool. You have a right to be unavailable every now and then. Stiffelman also suggested that parents shouldn't feel guilty about cutting back on some of their commitments, in order to keep life as simple as possible.
3. Work It Out
If you're feeling overwhelmed, breaking a little sweat can give you some relief. Exercise can help alleviate stress, as mentioned on Today. So find an activity you enjoy and get moving.
4. Have A Laugh
When I'm feeling stressed, there's nothing better than a good laugh with one my closest mommy friends. Find a fellow parent with whom you can trade war stories and offer a supportive ear. It always helps to know that someone else is with you in the struggle.
5. Seek Professional Help
According to Psychology Today, stressed-out parents should seek the guidance of a trained mental health professional to help them learn effective ways to tackle life's challenges. Whether you prefer online or in-person support, there are plenty of resources available for parents.
6. Make A List
Multitasking is often one of the most challenging parts of a parent's job. But as the Child Development Institute points out, you don't have to solely rely on your memory to get everything done. Make a to-do list on your smartphone to remind of you of appointments and daily tasks. As you complete tasks throughout the day, it will feel awesome to check things off.
7. Take It Outside
When the going gets tough, fresh air can help you keep going. Being outside can reduce stress and tension, according to Parenting Science. Take a bike ride, jog, or walk around your neighborhood to let off some steam.
8. Balance Your Diet
For busy parents, proper nutrition isn't always your first priority. But as the Center for Effective Parenting points out, a natural, healthy diet is one of the best ways to give your body the energy it needs to deal with stress effectively. Reduce your consumption of foods that are high in fat, cholesterol, and refined sugar. Load up on fruits, veggies, and whole grains instead.
9. Take Time For Yourself
Try starting your day before your kids to get your head in the game, as suggested in Parenting. Allow yourself a few minutes before they wake up for prayer, meditation, or stretching.
10. Don't Be Afraid To Delegate
Don't feel like you have to do it all alone. There's nothing wrong with accepting help from friends and family members with meal prep and school pick-up, as Psych Central noted. And if the budget allows, hire help with housework, even if it's only every once and a while to give yourself a break.
11. Live In The Moment
When you have children, it's almost impossible not to worry about their future. It's easy to start thinking about college before they're even out of diapers. But as mentioned in Parenting, you can save yourself a little stress by focusing on the here and now, rather than what's to come.