Being a parent can be one of life’s most fulfilling and rewarding roles. But anyone who has worked her way through sleepless nights with a colicky baby, had a battle of wills with a toddler who refuses to put his jacket on, or been told, “You’re ruining my life!” by an upset tween or teen knows that parenthood can be very hard work sometimes. Combine that stress with the hectic pace of trying to get everything done at home and work, and you could find yourself feeling distinctly unhappy or even depressed at times.
There are simple ways to make your life less stressful, and when you follow this advice, you’ll find that you’re a happier person who’s better able to enjoy time with kids and family.
- Don’t compare and compete. It’s easy to fall into the habit of comparing yourself to other parents. But here’s the problem. You know everything that goes on in your life—whether it’s yelling at your partner for leaving dishes in the sink or that you used candy to bribe your kids to be quiet while you were on the phone with your boss. What you see of the parents who you think are doing a better job than you are is their public persona. They may seem perfect, but everyone is human. You’re comparing yourself to an idealized parent, not a real one. Instead, focus on your own strengths and talents.
- It’s not selfish to take some time for yourself. Set aside some time every day to be alone. It can be challenging, especially if you have young kids who want to accompany you everywhere (including to the bathroom), but it’s important for you to have time that’s just for you. As a parent, this might feel like a luxury, but the chance to recharge can help you be a more patient and present member of the family. Go for a walk, pop on your headphones and listen to your favorite music, or try meditating. You’ll lower your stress levels, which is not only good for your mood, it’s also good for your health.
- Go off schedule. As a parent, not only are you balancing caring for your kids, keeping the house running, and staying on top of things at work, you’re also responsible for chauffeuring kids to and from lessons and practice, helping with homework, and walking the dog. One antidote to this extreme busyness is to set aside a day or part of a day each week where you and your family don’t do anything in particular. No homework, no answering work emails, no cleaning the house. You’ll be surprised how rejuvenating and fun just hanging out with your family can be.
- Let someone else do it. Although it might feel like you’re the only one who can keep the family juggling act going, you really don’t have to do everything yourself. Pre-schoolers can pick up and put away toys. School-aged children can sort and fold laundry. An older child can help a younger one with reading or math homework. You and your partner can divide up tasks based on what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing. Maybe one of you finds scrubbing the bathtub therapeutic, while the other enjoys raking leaves. Sharing chores not only takes the pressure off, it also lets all the members of the family make a valued contribution.
Join RAACE by becoming a RAACE Fan on Facebook and/or subscribing to our monthly newsletter and inviting those within your child's circle of trust to join in the fight against and prevention of child sexual abuse! Visit RAACE.org today or call 1.800.755.KIDS.