The stress that comes from parenting can sometimes feel overwhelming. This weekend I spent a couple of hours shopping at the Bullring in Birmingham. Almost every shop I went in, I saw very capable parents who looked like they were on the edge of a breakdown as their little darlings ran off into crowds of shoppers, refused to leave a shop without a toy they’d just seen.
Stress is a very natural human emotion for parents, to make us more alert when are little darlings are in danger. Once the immediate danger has passed are stress levels should return to normal, to prevent us burning out and becoming cognitively impaired. Worse still when stress remains with us for long periods we risk health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression obesity.
Here is the weekend parent guide to stress free parenting:
1. Sleep and lifestyle
Recent studies have shown that adults spend at least eight hours a day in front of technology; ipads, smartphones, and television all cut into the time we spend sleeping. When your little darling comes to wake you up at five am for breakfast, or to read a book, you’re going to need all the energy you can get. Improving your sleep, cutting back on caffeine, and eating a healthy diet will make you more alert and improve your ability to make clear decisions without becoming stressed.
2. Take another look;
Step back from the situation and assess why it is you’ve become agitated. Is there a danger to you or your little ones? If it has passed then the stress you’re feeling is subjective, and you need to demonstrate to your darling that you are back in control, just as you would expect them to do if they had lost their temper. If this is something you struggle with then look online for coping strategies to practice reducing your stress levels.
No parent has ever resolved a stressful situation by interrogating their son or daughter about what they should have done differently. Your little darling knows that he or she is not supposed to run off, but repeatedly telling them will only add to everyone’s stress level. Let them see that you accept what has happened is in the past and that you both want the same thing, an enjoyable day together.
4. Think of the Positives
Just as dwelling on a mistake is clinically proven to make us depressed, the opposite is also true. If you don’t do so already you should take a few moments each day to think about things you’re grateful for, or things coming up in your life that you’re excited about. You’ll soon develop a store of stress-free, positive feelings to draw upon then next time you’re confronted with a difficult situation.
5. Time to Yourself
Make sure that you give yourself a few dedicated hours each week to do something for yourself away from your children. When you give up all of your own time and interests it becomes difficult to distance yourself from the stress of the situation, and you won’t be able to recharge. Once you’ve got away for an hour or two you’ll have a fresh perspective and things won’t feel like they’re getting on top of you. If this sounds selfish then try doing it in very small periods to start. An hour a week with their grandparents while you and/or your partner do something you enjoy; a dance glass, or just time to update your blog!
What do you do to manage the stress from being a parent?