Stress Management & Parenting

November 22, 2021

by carol evenson, guest contributor

Parenting is no joke. For many individuals, being a parent is the hardest job there is. There are no set hours, no time off, and the "bosses" can get pretty demanding. Every parent is guaranteed at least a little stress, but some shoulder more than their fair share. How can you better manage your stress as a busy parent? Here are some things to keep in mind. 

Prioritize Sleep, but Don’t Stress When You Don’t Get It

Starting as infants, kids show little regard for your sleep schedule. Health experts go on and on about the dangers of sleep deprivation and how important healthy sleep is for overall health, but a regular sleep schedule just isn't feasible for most parents. For their kids, you bet, for themselves, not so much. This doesn't mean you should toss all attempts at healthy sleep out the window, but it does mean you shouldn't waste time stressing over sleep when you can't seem to find it. Otherwise, you could end up in bed at a reasonable time only to stay awake thinking about how much you need sleep! 

Try finding ways to encourage better sleep habits. D Gary Young has some thoughts on beneficial essential oils. Blackout curtains can keep light from waking you up too early, and limiting your screen time can help your brain wind down. 

Utilize Your Support System

Whether you see it or not, there are people out there ready to help you. Lean on family and friends to help when you need them. This may look like help with childcare, meals, or school pick-ups. Plus, many of these people are probably just looking for excuses to spend quality time with you and your kids. If you don't feel like you can rely on friends and family, look to your community. There are many parenting groups and organizations with free or low-cost resources for parents. 

Embrace Your Life Outside of Parenting

Some parents raise kids alone or deal with circumstances that prevent them from fully embracing their individual identities, and it can be painful to mourn the parts of yourself you feel you've lost. Always remember that being a parent is only part of who you are. If you have a job or engage in activities outside of parenting, it's important to embrace those parts of yourself. Many working moms feel guilty when in reality they are showing their children how important it is to have many aspects that make them feel whole and worthy.  

Make Time for Your Hobbies

Even if you can't get away from the kids when you do it, make time for your hobbies. This is especially important if you haven't made the time since having kids. It's easy to feel like being a parent is your only role to fill, but it's important to take care of yourself before you take care of others. Making time for your hobbies is a great way to relieve stress and teach your kids something new. Your kids may even want to start learning more about your favorite hobbies with you on a regular basis. 

Exercise Together

It's easy to neglect a regular exercise routine when your main focus is keeping tiny humans alive. Chasing them around the house, lifting them, and cleaning up their messes can also keep you pretty active. However, if you feel like you've been missing out in the exercise department, try taking some family walks to be active together. This is a free and easy activity that can get your family into nature or even just your neighborhood. This gives you an opportunity to talk and connect or simply explore the world around you. Walking regularly can help you think clearly, boost your mood, and have more energy throughout the day.

Being a parent can feel all-consuming, but it's important to alleviate stress before you burn out. By taking the time to take care of yourself, you'll likely discover that you can be a happier and more attentive parent to your kids. 

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