Young Children & Parenting Stress: 4 Tips to Help You Cope
Are you tired and stressed all the time because there’s always more to do in a day than there are hours?
As a parent of young children, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed, like you no longer have control over your life. When you have growing children, you have more factors in your life to try and manage. You’ll need to periodically restructure your life to accommodate their needs and desires as they grow up. And that’s the key word: structure!
When we can find a way to organize our day and put some rhyme and reason into our schedule, we no longer feel as though our tasks are bigger than us. As empowered parents, we can get things done and still have time to have quality moments with our children as well as some time for ourselves.
Here are 4 tips to help you cope with parenting stress:
1. Create a routine and stick to it
A routine is a great way for you and your children to feel secure. It helps both you and them manage behavior by knowing that you did the same series of things the day before and they will get done properly again today. This creates a positive environment for you and your children by reducing anxiety, chaos, and uncertainty. You are in control of your time, not the other way around.
2. Don’t try to cram too much into your routine
We probably work more than previous generations and get less for it, as wages fail to rise with the cost of living in many areas of the country. Parents want the best for their children, but it’s easy to get distracted from the real goal — your relationship with your children — when you spend a great deal of time and energy making sure they have the material things they need in addition to scheduling activities intended to keep their minds or bodies active. Never forget the importance of scheduling some “down time” for your children and yourself to relax and spend quality time together at home. A good tip to find activities you can cut is to think about when you’re forced to shout “Come on! Hurry up!” If it doesn’t fit nicely into your day and makes you rush, causing frustration and anxiety…can’t you cut out that activity?
3. Make time for “me time”
This is probably the hardest thing to do. As a parent, we naturally privilege others above ourselves and are often made to feel guilty when we take time to do something that’s just for us. But it’s so important to take time to “sharpen the saw.” If you don’t take care of your emotional needs, you can’t be at your best for others. While spending as much time as you can with your children sounds great on the surface, it’s actually important for their development to be given some solitary play time. This helps your children know they don’t always need your attention (or that of a babysitter, daycare caregiver, teacher, or other children) to be entertained, happy, or satisfied. This helps build a good foundation for independence as they grow up and also helps to develop their imagination and creativity.
4. Try not to make exceptions
Managing your children’s behavior is a huge source of parenting stress. It is frustrating when they act up and embarrassing when they do so in public. Sometimes children are just tired. Busy parents often keep their children out too late as they run errands in the evening, resulting in an inconsistency in routine and sleep patterns that leaves children tired, irritable, and prone to acting out. When children misbehave, especially in public, or after mom or dad has had a long, stressful work day, it’s easier to just give in and let the child have her ice cream before finishing her dinner, saying “just this once.” Once you’ve done that though, it creates a loophole in the “rules” that looks to your children an awful lot like permission to repeat the bad behavior.
Support for Parenting Stress
If you’re feeling stressed as a parent of young children and find yourself questioning if you’re doing things right, please know that you are not alone! There is so much more expected of parents now than ever before as kids are less free to roam outside independently, we want to do our best to support the emotional, social and intellectual development of our children and the internet gives us greater access on how to do things “perfectly.” All in all, it can be very overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve created a support group specifically for the needs of mothers who are feeling overwhelmed by the stress of parenting and need support for themselves. Find out more about our women’s parenting support group. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.
If a group doesn’t fit with your schedule, individual therapy can also be a helpful resource to help you cope with the demands of parenting while also getting support and empowerment for yourself. Alexandra is a therapist in Houston who specializes in the unique needs of mothers.
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