Tips to Reduce Stress for You and Your Children
Some stress is a normal part of life, but if it feels like you are stressed out all the time, it’s definitely time for a change. Being a parent is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. When you feel overwhelmed, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Many parents report that parenting is stressful most or all of the time.
It’s a good idea to reach out for support if you answer “yes” to any of these questions:
- Do you feel as if your children misbehave on purpose?
- Do you find yourself yelling at your kids or saying hurtful things?
- Do you feel as though you take your frustrations out on your kids?
- Do you feel overwhelmed and see no way out?
Here at One Tough Job, we encourage you to find programs that support families, especially through our resources section.
Here are some suggestions to help manage your stress:
- When you feel overwhelmed, make sure your kids are safe and then give yourself a time-out of five minutes to cool off.
- Give yourself credit for doing a good job – there is no such thing as a perfect parent.
- Plan regular time each day for self-care. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, making time for light exercise, meditation, or reading a book you love will reduce your stress.
- If you are a parent of a newborn, then nap time for baby means nap time for you. Sometimes, tis can be hard when there are a million things to do. Even a few times a week can help you feel more rested and able to tackle the day.
- For toddlers, put dangerous items out of reach so that you can enjoy your child’s exploration instead of worrying
- As your child grows into the preschool stage, try a playgroup or weekend program. You may be able to get a short break while your child plays with others.
While you look out for yourself and keep your stress levels low, consider that your child also can experience stress. Now, more than ever, kids can enjoy a wide variety of programs and activities. But, how much is too much? If your previously happy child begins to exhibit any of the following behaviors, they may be feeling stressed out:
- cries easily and often
- seems sad or tired often
- asks to stay at home
- becomes clingy or has problems separating from loved ones
- has new problems sleeping, becomes irritable, gets frustrated easily
- regresses to uncharacteristic behaviors, such as bed-wetting, or changes in appetite and/or experiences a drop in grades.
If you are concerned about your child's mental, developmental, lingual, physical or social progress at any time, you should discuss your concerns with your pediatrician at the child's next scheduled visit, or ask for an appointment sooner if you do not have an appointment coming up soon.
Also, there are ways you can protect your children from stress. When you notice signs of stress, ask yourself these check-in questions:
- Has my child expressed an interest in this activity?
- Does our family have time to relax and “just hang out” together at home? Does my child have time for unscheduled play dates or other activities?
- Is your child ready for the activity, or are they only trying to please you?
It might be necessary to slow down and be realistic about your expectations. Remember, just as there is no perfect parent, there is no perfect child. Give yourself and your family a little grace so that you all can get a little more enjoyment out of everyday.