Stress is a fact of life when you’re a parent. Anyone who disagrees might want to check out the Web. A recent search using the term “parenting stress” yielded more than two million hits. The sources of parenting stress vary greatly, but all of us deal with having a 24-7 job that includes the tremendous responsibility of raising another human being. Keeping that in mind, it’s important that we take care of ourselves and make stress busters a part of our regular routine.
Tips for . . .
- parents with children ages birth to 5
- Get out together with your child. A change of scenery, even just a short walk, can put everyone in a better, more relaxed mood.
- Have reasonable expectations. Know that kids this age sometimes “lose it,” occasionally don’t make it to the bathroom or blow out their diapers, and often run out of steam and need to rest. You’ll save yourself stress if you can learn to prepare for these situations before they occur.
- parents with children 6 to 9
- Send a short note of thanks to someone who has influenced your parenting. Reaching out to others and remembering their gifts to you can be surprisingly comforting in times of stress.
- Get moving. When exercising, your body releases chemicals that can help you calm down both emotionally and physically.
- parents with children 10 to 15
- If you parent with a partner, make sure you work on keeping that relationship happy and healthy. You, your partner, and your kids will all benefit.
- As much as possible, try to keep a sense of humor. Laugh with your kids, your partner, a friend, your dad, anyone who can empathize with the rapid changes in mood, personality, opinion, and so on, that your child is experiencing.
- Never stop asking for help and support. Even though you’ve been parenting for a while now, new things come up during adolescence. Those who’ve been through it, particularly parents of young adults, can share their wisdom and perspective. Choose someone you trust and who won’t judge you or your parenting.
- parents with children 16 to 18
- Share the workload. Your kids are old enough now to prepare and clean up after meals, take care of a sibling, clean the bathroom, or do other household tasks.
- Get organized. Even little steps such as making a To-Do List or keeping a family calendar can ease the strain on your brain that comes from trying to keep track of a bunch of information.
- Take a break. If you always change the oil on the car, get someone else to do it or go to a shop; if you have a job, take a vacation day just for yourself; if you don’t get out much, call a friend and go to a game or movie together.