How many parents are feeling worn out and exhausted? Feeling like you never get a break and your kids consume your life?
Well, you aren’t alone. Every parent goes through these emotions at some time or another.
Parenting is similar to any other part of our life that we are fully committed to, where we feel times of burnout and then we also experience times of extreme joy. The main difference between parenting and any other life commitment is that our children are a major priority in our lives and we extend every part of our being to their care and growth. In fact, we extend so much to our children, that we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves.
There is no way around it: parenting is challenging. No matter what age your children are, being an attentive and loving parent can be overwhelming. Combined with other daily life responsibilities and goals, parenting may seem impossible at times. Balance seems unattainable.
What can we do about it?
How can we avoid feeling overwhelmed and completely exhausted?
- REMEMBER THAT THEY ARE CHILDREN. Our children do not understand our parenting
challenges. In fact, we didn’t accept anything our parents expressed to us about life until we grew up and had a family of our own. Well, our kids are no different. They aren’t maliciously attempting to work our nerves (
except for the teenager who just might) and we have to remember that we are dealing with children, not adults. When we feel stressed we must try to gain our composure with the mindset that we are interacting with mini-adults, with all of their immaturity and lack of awareness. We are here to love, guide, and protect them. Even when they are climbing walls and running around the house. Take a deep breath and relax. They’re just kids.
- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Parenting quickly become a nightmare when we are drained and stressed. When we spend our days and nights caring for our children, let’s be real, it takes a toll on us. We become worn out, weary, and may even begin to resent our kids if we are not careful. We cannot be good parents if we are out of energy. So, make yourself a priority. Be sure to take care of your health, get dressed everyday, get out of the house, schedule some “adult” time, and make sure you get enough sleep. I know it is not easy to take care of yourself when you have a sick child and a host of other life responsibilities at the same time, but it is possible. If you neglect your self-care, you will regret it. Make time for it!
- HAVE A LIFE OUTSIDE OF PARENTING. Of course our children are our priority, this goes without saying. But we have to maintain a life outside of our parenting role too. What personal goals do you have? Do you spend any time with friends and family? Are you active in any hobbies or activities? These questions are important to consider because if you do not stay in touch with who you are as an individual, you cannot be the best parent you desire to be. And you want your children to be able to look up to you as they get older and witness you striving for your goals and reaching success too. Parenting is not a life-sentence separating us from your goals. Sometimes we just have to be creative in how we pursue our goals because our kids take priority, but don’t let parenting become a crutch to ignore your dreams and ambition. Let parenting be a motivator for you to reach even higher levels!
- COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS. On those days that your kids are driving you absolutely nuts, before you lose your mind and start yelling, count your blessings. Just stop right where you are and start saying out loud all of the things and people in your life that you are thankful for. Even amidst our stress, we all can express gratitude for something in our life. This exercise is an easy “off” switch for a negative thinking attack on our parenting. You cannot spiral into the snowball of negative thinking if you are currently thinking and speaking positive thoughts. Our brain doesn’t work that way. Keep counting and saying your blessings out loud until you are calmer and able to tackle the next thing on your parenting list for the day. I know it sounds simple, but it works.
- ASK FOR HELP. Please do not parent alone. Even if you are a single parent, you do not have to tackle this enormous role on your own. It’s ok to ask for help. I am confident that you know at least one person you trust with your children so that you can take a break. Sometimes even just a few hours to yourself can work wonders and leave us feeling rejuvenated. Go see a movie, take a walk, buy something nice for yourself, go out for dinner, or even take a nap. But do not be afraid to ask for help when you need a break. This will make you a better and more attentive parent, and your children will respond postively when you have refueled. You will feel your patience restored and your ability to manage your stress when you take some time for yourself.
You are not alone as a parent. There are so many resources out here to help when we are overwhelmed and exhausted. The first step is acknowledging that we are emotionally and physically drained. The second step is not feeling embarrassed about it. The third step is getting our thoughts aligned with our reality. Being a frustrated and worn out parent does no good for us or our children. (And by all means, please do not physically, mentally, or emotionally harm your children. If you feel this way, call the authorities immediately. Don’t do something you will definitely regret)
You can cope and make it through the challenges of parenting. Be patient with yourself and take things one step at a time, one hour at a time, and one day at a time.
And hug your children.