Being a parent is a tough job and it can take a toll on the caregivers if they forget to take care of themselves too. Being entirely responsible for another human being, who is incapable of feeding, bathing or even expressing himself is an understated and full-time job that can get stressful if you’re not careful. All parents feel this stress at some point in their parenting journey and it gets translated into strenuous relationships, misbehaving kids and health issues that can worsen the quality of their lives. Before you get completely drained, here’s how you can re-fill your cup of well-being and carry on being a happy parent. Here’s how to cope with parenting stress. Read on and discover some self-care strategies for parents.
What are the main reasons for stress in parents?
Some recurring factors can lead to parents feeling like they are in a persistent state of stress. If we are aware of our triggers, we can consciously work to handle stress better and not react in a way that we regret later. Here are some pointers that may be leading to parenting anxiety in you.
All parents feel guilty for not doing enough for their kids. We’re either worrying about not feeding our kids enough healthy food, or we’re worrying about their academic abilities and social skills. Parents must remember that guilt only makes us feel like bad parents while accepting our present situation and its limitations helps us stay content, relaxed and involved in our kids’ lives.
Comparing your child’s skills and abilities with every other child will only make him feel inadequate and lacking. Parents must accept that every child is special and must work on honing their little one’s qualities, instead of comparing and appreciating some other child in the spotlight.
Fear of failing as parents
There’s a popular quote that says “Parent the child you have, not the one you wish you had”. We all feel like boasting our child’s abilities to the world, but when our kids misbehave or go against the flow, we fear that we’ll be termed as failing parents amongst friends and family. This fear makes us want to punish our kids in unhealthy ways when they need our connection and empathy.
Working on auto-pilot mode
Parenting is a 24/7 job, where we are constantly looking after the several needs of our children. But if we don’t take out a few moments in the day to re-centre ourselves, we will feel drained and our mind and body will stop coordinating with us. It’s a good idea to take a break without reaching the point of saturation.
Denying yourself time and not acknowledging your stress
There are no medals for parents who reserve zero time for themselves. Denying ourselves time is refusing to fill our cup of well being –which only results in diminishing our ability to connect to our kids. So, when you’re stressed, acknowledge it, give yourself time, make a strategy for the future and get back to parenting.
Not connecting with your child
Forming a deep bond of love with our children while playing with them or spending time with them releases happy hormones that can instantly lift our moods and decrease our stress levels. So, lighten up and focus on connecting with your child instead of trying to teach them something all the time.
9 Tips for Stressed-Out Parents
Your child deserves a happy, calm parent and you must do everything in your power to be this for your little one. Here are a few tips and the importance of self-care for parents to cope with motherhood stress and help them manage their anxiety better.
Seek support from family and friends
Asking for help doesn’t make you weak or a bad parent. The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” insists that it takes many adults to provide a healthy and safe environment for kids to grow up in. Asking friends and family to occasionally look after your kids gives you time to finish chores or pursue hobbies and also helps kids develop social skills.
Talk to mothers who are in your age group
Swapping your struggles and sharing stories with mothers who are in the same boat as you will not only make you feel heard and understood, but it will also make you feel less alone in this journey. You might even get tricks and tips for problems that you’re facing.
Give yourself an hour – fix it and follow it
Don’t feel guilty about taking time to recharge and rejuvenate. Having some time to yourself after making sure your kids are safe will only give you the energy you need to parent better and more mindfully.
Don’t spend all your spare time scrolling
We’ve all developed the unhealthy habit of mindlessly scrolling through our phones to distract ourselves after our kids have gone to bed or are engaged somewhere else. This doesn’t just drain us, it also fails to recharge us like pursuing a hobby would and we end up feeling bad about not using our time productively.
Get professional help
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with parenting and find yourselves unable to function, you must seek medical help. You can talk to your paediatrician, your gynaecologist or a professional therapist – all of whom will provide you with a safe space to vent and then strategise with you to manage your emotions and situations better.
Spend some time with your spouse
We become so busy with our kids that we forget who we used to be as individuals before we became parents. Spending time with your spouse, without the kids and other distractions, if only for a few minutes can help you feel heard and seen and loved. This will go a long way in managing your stress every day.
Prioritise your food and sleep
This may seem like a basic thing, but we often ignore our bodily needs when we are busy parenting our kids, which in turn causes nutritional deficiencies that drain our energy. Make sure you get adequate rest – even if it means skipping Netflix –and be mindful of eating healthy food as often as you can.
Don’t fall into the trap of social media
Social media may make the lives of other parents seem seamless and happy – but remember that the grass is always greener on the other side. Every parent has their share of struggles and that’s a side social media fails to throw light on, so don’t feel inadequate looking at someone’s smiling, perfect pictures.
Focus on the good thing
Instead of trying to be someone who cooks nutritious food for their kids, reads books to them, plays games with them, and does homework – try to do one thing you’re good at and enjoy doing it with all your heart. Quality time spent with kids is more important than spending all your time hovering over them.
1. Am I a bad mother for feeling so stressed all the time?
No, but feeling stressed all the time is your body’s way of telling you that it is feeling drained and needs a break. Ask for help and give yourself some rest – you deserve it.
2. Can one seek professional help for dealing with parenting anxiety?
Yes. You can talk to your paediatrician, or gynaecologist or consult a medical therapist.