Resources: U.S. News Health
Parenting can be one of the most wonderfully rewarding and completely exhausting experiences. Whether you are a working or a stay-at-home parent, managing a family is no walk in the park. It can be really difficult to find work/life balance and to manage the household, making sure the needs of all family members are met. Every parent is going to feel stressed at some point! What are some signs that you as a parent are feeling stressed?
Feeling easily frustrated with your children and being short with them is an early sign you might need a break. It’s normal for your emotional overload to reach your kids. Even when parents are able to remain calm and avoid raising their voice, kids pick up on tension in the home and experience stress, anxiety and other negative emotions themselves, as a result.
“Parents are often surprised by how much their kids seem to notice at home. It’s the natural instinct of the parent to protect the child from negativity and grownup problems. But kids are naturally curious and intuitive. They know when something is amiss and may expend great effort to understand the problem. Kids also tend to internalize that stress and react accordingly,” U.S. News Health explains. “Make no mistake, parental stress has an impact on kids, whether it be the yelling they endure or the added tension they feel. Stress has a trickle-down effect in families.”
As all parents know, kids are always watching! That is why it is so important to be a good example to your children. Kids learn by the example you set, more so than by the words you say. They mimic what they see!
By taking time for yourself regularly, you show your children that you and your interests matter, that your life outside of them is valuable, and that practicing positive ways to relax is healthy. Use your relaxation as a teaching moment for your children to respect others and be less selfish!
Practicing me-time encourages kids to respect you and your time, and helps them understand that while they are so important, they are not the center of the universe. Give yourself permission to slow down and recharge your batteries. Moms and dads who get alone time feel rejuvenated, and have more energy and patience to be a good parent!
What does ‘me-time’ look like?
Go out to lunch or hang at a coffee shop; bring a book or call back that friend.
Get a mani/pedi or massage.
If you love to cook, make a nice meal, or a yummy snack! Cooking can be therapeutic.
Go for a walk or run and listen to anything BUT Kidz Bop or Disney music!
Create space to exercise in an at-home workout.
Practice early morning yoga in the peaceful quiet before your kids wake up.
Catch up on your sleep! You deserve a nap.
Soak in a warm bubble bath; add wine and your favorite book!
Spend time on a craft or hobby; paint or draw.
Relax and read! Ask your partner or support person to watch the little ones.
Do absolutely nothing! Reset and gather your thoughts.
Accomplishing chores is not me-time!! Don’t cheat yourself.
Remember who you are as an individual. Sometimes we can get lost in being “only a parent” and forget there are other roles you play in life. It’s healthy to take a few moments to mentally focus on yourself, and alone time helps you do that.
If relatives and/or friends are able to watch your baby, let them. This gives them time to develop a bond with your child. Hiring a babysitter is also a good idea, not just for you but for your child too! It is healthy for baby to have relationships with other adults they can trust. These relationships will make transitioning to daycare and school a little easier.
The responsibilities of parenting can be stressful and tiring. This built-up stress has been linked to diabetes, depression and heart disease. Relaxation and recreation time for yourself helps to release stress. For the benefit of your own physical and mental health, do something to decompress. Encouraging your partner to do the same will also benefit the family.
When you make time for yourself and fulfil your needs you can then look after everyone else; your children, your partner, your work. You can’t give to others if you don’t give to yourself first!