Managing Parenting Stress
No one said being a parent is easy! Having children makes life exciting, fun and challenging, but can cause significant stress as well. Being a parent can make it difficult to maintain regular self-help routines, particularly if your child has special needs like ADHD or autism. Whether you work outside the home or not, are single or married, have one child or five, the pressures of managing parental stress can be daunting. Of course, a stressed out parent is a less effective one, so any efforts to manage difficulties in a healthy way are always beneficial.
Consider trying the following strategies for managing parental stress:
- Talk to other parents, particularly ones that you admire, about how they manage the challenges of each developmental stage.
- Adjust your expectations, especially those about order and neatness. Don’t maintain impossibly high standards for yourself and your household.
- Realize that the best parent is the one who is emotionally present and attuned to their child’s needs, not the one with the most sparkling house or the most affluent.
- Be a positive role model. Be flexible enough to admit that you are not perfect. Know that if you are doing your best, there is no need to feel guilty. Laugh at your own mistakes.
- Draw strength from family and friends, particularly people who make you feel good about yourself and feel loved.
- Accept any help that is offered.
- Prioritize taking care of yourself. Most of us need to be very intentional in devoting time to our own mental health, or it becomes overlooked. Giving your child the gift of an emotionally resilient parent will be worth the effort.
- Take deep breaths, go for a walk, or take a brief “mental vacation” by visualizing yourself in a relaxing place. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. You will be a great example for your children.
- Plan ahead for the next day. Use a calendar and make lists.
- Anticipate problems and solve them before they get out of control. During a calm respite, brainstorm with someone you trust about what could be done to prevent recurrent issues.
- Talk with a counselor or religious leader. Or join a parenting group. Sometimes it really helps to just get things off your chest.