This post was inspired by Mary’s Living with Food Allergies and Celiac Disease blog post which you can read here. Mary’s daughter Michaela was diagnosed with food allergies and Celiac Disease, and her blog tells about their life and offers fantastic suggestions to others dealing with food allergies and Celiac Disease.
There is also Joanne, a member of my gym. She has four children, one of whom has an extremely rare illness that gives her a life expectancy of no more than 21 years.
Parenthood brings you immense amounts of joy, happiness, pleasure, pride, elation, personal growth and so many rewarding experiences. However, parenthood can also be very stressful. There are so many demands and so many promises you need to fulfil. Your responsibilities can leave you feeling anxious and frustrated, all of which can take a heavy toll on you.
Stress starts to mount from the very beginning. The concern of pregnancy and childbirth to crying babies, colic, teething and tantrums, the “terrible twos”, through to problems at school and then parenting teenagers itself can be a monumental task. Each stage of growing up places different demands on parents, it can be very rewarding but will have many bumps in the road.
As a parent you will never stop worrying about your children’s well-being throughout their lives. It doesn’t stop even when your child gets to the age where they’re dealing with finding jobs and partners and having kids of their own. Parents will worry about their children no matter how old they are.
When your child falls sick, or is having difficulties at school, or has become involved in the wrong crowd, your parental stress level can rise to peak levels. You have to learn how to manage stress of parenthood before it gets the better of you.
Stress and parenthood go hand in hand. Coping with your children, in addition to running a home, holding down a job, paying bills and all the other countless demands on us, create stress.
Parenting in many ways is the greatest responsibility a person can hold. Identifying the fact that parenthood creates stress is important for you to be able to manage stress well. As a parent you need to learn how to cope so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by stress. When we are stressed out even little annoying things, like your child spilling a drink on your carpet, can push you over the edge. You get to the point where you do not know which way to turn or which task to do next. This is the point where you have to stop, draw breath and introduce stress management techniques into your life.
The warning signs of stress are personal to each of us and these vary from headaches, aches and pains, skin rashes and upset stomach. Very often we will be prone to certain ailments which surface when we are tense and under pressure.
Coping with the stress of parenting starts with understanding what makes you feel stressed, learning to recognize the symptoms of too much stress, and learning some new ways of handling life’s problems. What we must realize is that our feelings of stress come from inside ourselves and that we can learn to keep our stress reactions under control.
Using a stress management technique (or a few) to regularly practice can help you manage parenting stress, keep you healthier and happier in the long run, and help you feel better emotionally.
Here are some tips which can help:
1. Give yourself a get away
Having a hobby or other creative outlet can help you relieve stress, lift your spirits, and help you maintain your identity as a person and not just a parent. This can help you keep your children’s lives in perspective and deal with some of the worry and anxiety that comes from being a parent. My get away has always been going to the gym. My wife doing beauty courses. Find something that is ‘your time’.
2. Your body is your temple – take care of it
Taking care of your body can have lasting physical and emotional benefits. Eating a healthy diet, for example, can stabilize your blood sugar levels and help keep mood swings at bay. It can also keep your body healthier so you’re sick less often, feel better about yourself, and live longer. Your children’s health now and in the future will benefit from you teaching them healthy eating habits. Lead by example. Maintaining a regular exercise regime can provide the same benefits, plus give you a release of endorphins and other positive emotions, help you release tension, and lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Walking is a great exercise. Walking with your family is a great relaxing healthy activity. Take some time, go exploring, walk through your local park, go into the countryside, or if you’re lucky enough walk down a beach. In my own gym, I have many examples of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters who work out together. It’s a great bonding time.
3. Be smart with your finances.
As we all know, raising a child is expensive! The financial cost of raising a child can take an emotional toll in the form of money worries. Learning better money management techniques can give you more financial choices and keep you less stressed about your budget and your future. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s. When young kids watch lots of television, they will always see something new that they want. Of course we as parents want to lavish them with as much as we can, but be sensible, don’t spoil them totally, learn again just to say ‘no darling’.
4. Talking With Your Child
The most important strategy that can be followed to manage stress is to keep the communication going between yourself and your child, even when it becomes difficult. Your stress level will be greatly reduced if you can talk with your child, especially when something is bothering him or her. I was reading the other day about how some parents are upset that their children confide in others instead of them. To me the more loving you are, but also understanding you show, the more your kids will confine in you. If they know you won’t jump at them when they make mistakes, then they will trust how you will react , and share with you their problems.
5. Showing Unconditional Love
It is important for your child to know that your love is unconditional, and that he or she can turn to you at any time of the day or night. Strengthening the bond of trust can do a great deal to eliminate your stress. Your child will not always be an angel, but your love for them will never die. Let them know you will be always be their for them, loving them. But of course teaching them right from wrong is crucial to their growth and development.
6. Support your Child
Another stress-reducing technique that works for both parent and child is to set aside time to spend with your child helping him or her with homework. This is particularly important if you have more than one child. Always be there for them when they need you. Help them with revision at exam time. Go through their potions when it comes to things like 6th form, college, university.
7. Work together with your Partner
You got to take a break from your parenting activities a little every day. You can’t do it all alone. This is why single parents struggle that much more. They have no one to pass the baton to. Have your husband or wife watch the children for ten minutes while you re-group. When you feel the stress bubbling inside of you, ready to blow, give yourself a timeout and you will watch that your stress level reducing considerably.
It’s vital that you talk over family problems in a warm, relaxed atmosphere. Focus on solutions rather than finding blame. If you are too busy or upset to listen well at a certain time, say so. Then agree on a better time, and make sure to do it.
With your spouse laugh together, be appreciative of each other, and give compliments often. It may be very hard to schedule time to spend with your spouse, doing things that you both enjoy, but it is the best time you will ever invest. So not only make time for you as a family with your children, make time for just the two of you.
8. Maintain a helpful network.
Being able to talk to someone, sharing your worries is a great stress reducer! It is vital that you have the resources and emotional support to give and share. It is important for your sanity that every now and again you can take a break from looking after the children. This goes some way to keeping stress from building up. Ask for help from friends or relatives to take care of the children for a while. Exchange babysitting services with a neighbour, or hire a teenager, even for a short time once a week to get some time for yourself.
9. Use time management techniques.
Are you running around like a headless chicken? Always exhausted mid way through the afternoon. Are you rushing from one place to another? Taking kids backwards and forwards to school, after school clubs, sports events, music lessons, to friends, cadets, scouts, or one of many other places and activities your kids are involved in. The pressure of chauffeuring at times can be very stressful. Particularly if you have more than one child needing to go to different places. On top of that you may have a full time job, and household responsibilities. With all this to do, it is common to start feeling stressed and being overwhelmed.
Being organised, managing your time wisely, and learning to say no to activities that aren’t a top priority can open up more time for family bonding, relaxation and, well, your own peace of mind. sanity.
You need to use time management. Give yourself time to spend with your children, time for yourself, and time for your spouse and/or friends.
10. Enjoy fun times with your children!
Don’t forget to enjoy every second you can with your children throughout their lives and yours. Hug them often, tell them you love them and enjoy them for who they are. Don’t let a day go to waste!
You both need to experience many fun time with your children, to let them know that you care, and to give each of you very happy memories. Plan for an afternoon of roller-skating or an evening playing games. You’ll find that such relaxing activities can help to alleviate your stress.
Parenting is the greatest joy in life and it’s also the hardest job on the planet! Eliminating parenting Stress will help you be the best parent you can be and fulfill the rest of life’s obligations!