by Rachelle Tannenbaum
We all know that stress is, to state the obvious, not fun, and some stress is inevitable. Thankfully, though, there are many steps that you can take to reduce your stress levels. This is no small matter, as stress affects both your physical and mental well-being:
Stress lowers your immune system functioning. This makes you more prone to illness, and makes those illnesses last longer.
Stress makes you cranky. Not only is the unpleasant for you, but it also makes it harder to maintain good relationships with friends, coworkers, and family members.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic, you may be interested in our course “Balancing Work and Family Life.” Details about this and all our classes may be found on our courses page. Alternatively, you can bring us to your neighborhood and have us offer courses or workshops at your school, church, or organization. Contact us today for more details!
REDUCING THE STRESS OF PARENTING
by Rachelle Tannenbaum
So what can you do?
Get enough sleep. It may often seem that there aren’t enough hours in the day. But if you challenge yourself to increase your nightly sleep by even 30 minutes, you’ll find that you become more efficient when you’re awake, because you’re better able to focus your energy.
Eat right and get enough exercise. Again, this can seem like a daunting task because of the time involved. But there are plenty of ways to make this more convenient. And not only will it help your physical health, it will also help with your self-esteem because you’ll look better.
Take time for yourself. You love your kids, but that doesn’t mean you need to be with them all the time. Trade babysitting services with friends, or get a friend or outside sitter to watch the kids. Do something that you enjoy.
Don’t neglect your own relationships. Set up a regular “date night” with your partner or spouse. Take time to go out with friends. And don’t feel guilty about it! It’s good for your kids to spend some time without you, and you will be a better parent if you are able to get that relief from the daily grind.
Enjoy your kids. It may sound silly, but it’s very easy to get caught up in day-to-day logistics, and to forget to stop and smell the roses once in a while. Do something fun, just you and the kids. And talk to them about what’s going on in their lives. This can help you appreciate your kids’ unique qualities. As an added benefit, you’ll strengthen your relationship with the kids, which in turn means that they will be more likely to trust you and confide in you when they face difficult decisions.
Remember that nobody’s perfect. If you try to be the “perfect parent,” you’re just setting yourself up for failure. If the laundry doesn’t get folded immediately, or you just give in and order pizza one night because you’re exhausted, your kids will survive. And if it prevents you from feeling overwhelmed, then it will make you a better parent in the long run.
Learn to say “no.” It’s OK to limit the number of activities to which you drive your kids, or the number of toys you buy, or school activities you get involved with.
Take steps to avoid hassles in the first place. For example, keep a common calendar (either paper or electronic) to keep track of everyone's activities. Make food in large batches and then freeze the leftovers, so that you have something quick to reheat when you're in a rush some other day. Limit the number of toys in the house, which will limit the amount of cleanup. And assign regular chores to all family members.
And finally, last but certainly not least, LAUGH. Laugh when things go right, and laugh when things go wrong. It may not make problems go away, but it will make them seem less insurmountable.
THE PARENTING CENTER LINKS
Would you like to learn more about this month’s topic? We recommend the following sites:
- Stress Management for Parents contains explanations of how stress affects us (both physically and mentally), as well as a long list of suggestions for reducing stress.
- Stress Management for Parents is a publication from the Center for Effective Parenting. Like the similarly-named site above, it contains information about the effects of stress and ways to reduce it.
- The Imperfect Parent provides a forum to debate and to share ideas about being a good—but not perfect—parent.
- Parent Hacks is a peer-driven site where people can share ideas for making life easier.
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