Parenting is one of the biggest and hardest jobs. There are moments so tough that some parents begin to question whether they are really fit to educate and raise a child. The name of this feeling is parenting stress. And it only became more prevalent in the last two years when the COVID-19 pandemic forced parents and children to stay under the same roof much longer than they were used to.
According to a recent survey that interviewed parents during and after the lockdown, nearly three-quarters (71.1 percent) reported an increase in parenting-related stress. Having to deal with family and professional life at the same time and not being able to leave the house affected psychological health in a way that has not yet been fully understood.
The good news is that the world is slowly getting back to normal (or “new normal”), and you can reduce some parenting burdens by adopting simple strategies. Let’s take a look at five tips that can make your life easier and relieve parenting stress.
1. Ask for Backup
Today’s kids are more hyperactive than ever and can seem a little demanding at times – especially when you come home after a hard day at work. When you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or depressed when you get home or are simply taking some work to finish, there’s nothing wrong with asking for backup.
In these cases, call your partner, a family member, the parents next door who have children of the same age, or even hire a babysitter to give full attention to the kids while you focus on what you need to do – or even relax and recharge. That way, you also avoid taking your stress or anger out on your kids, yelling at them, or scolding them for any little thing.
2. Maintain Social Circle
If your days are all home to work and work to home, you might be closer to snap than you think. Even as a new parent, dedicating 24 hours a day to your children can be very tiring and unhealthy.
Keeping your social circle close can work miracles on your mental health. After all, even if you don’t leave the house as much anymore because of the kids, keeping in touch with friends is a great way to relieve stress, exchange some dad and mom tips and jokes, have fun together and make parenting easier in the process.
3. Be Childish
If you feel like you are spending little time with your kids but are too busy to take them on a trip or to the stadium, just try to be childish when you come home from work. In other words: drop everything and just have fun with the kids!
Everything goes. Does your child like games? So set a few apart, host a board game night, or propose playing hide and seek all over the house. If they prefer sports, how about improvising something in the backyard? Just don’t forget protective gear like knee guards, gloves and some age-appropriate kids’ glasses to avoid any serious accidents. And if they are superhero fans, take the opportunity to watch some movies or series together. That way, you forget about “adult life” for a few hours, relieve stress, and recharge.
4. Talk to Other Parents
Being a parent is discovering something new about your kids every day or facing some unknown challenge or difficulty. Some situations can cause a lot of anxiety and stress, especially when they happen for the first time and you don’t know how to handle them. As there is no manual for children, ask other parents for help.
When you’re worried about anything (low grades, the child’s sudden silence, the fact that they aren’t eating well, etc.), seek the wisdom of friends, family, or neighbors with more years of parenting. It’s obvious that not every tip or recommendation is valid or works because people differ. But maybe you’ll discover some brand new techniques.
Alternatively, talk more with your partner, who may have faced a similar situation when you weren’t around and already knows what to do. If all fails, remember that there are great websites and blogs full of recommendations for first-time parents on the Internet.
5. Make Time for Needs
None of the above tips will help if you can’t make time for the needs of your children, your spouse, and most importantly, yourself. Avoid filling your schedule with work commitments and forgetting to leave some free time to relax in bed or the bath, have dinner with your partner, and play with your kids – or just listen to them to see how their day went.
The feeling of always racing against the clock, of never having time for yourself and your family, can be very stressful and make parenting more difficult than it is. So don’t forget to make time for your needs and the family’s needs. Also, remember that a hobby is the best way to deal with stress.
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Parenting Is as Complex as Exciting
Once you have your child (or children), you begin to understand better why your parents were always tired. Sometimes you need to be a superhero to find time for everything that work, parenting, and adult life as a whole demand at the same time.
But you will soon discover that parenting is as challenging and complex as it is exciting and rewarding. And that’s exactly why you need to find ways to manage your stress: parenting is fun, and you need to fully enjoy these days with your kids while they grow.
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