Parental Overwhelm – 4 Helpful Tips
- Leona Lasse
- September 10, 2018
Parental Overwhelm – 4 helpful ways to keep your head above water:
It’s book week on Monday, the forms for Nippers are due, you need a babysitter this Saturday night and your daughter has broken her glasses…again!! If you’re a parent, you’ll be familiar with the seemingly never ending list of “To do’s”, the constant checking of the calendar for what you need to do next and all the “stuff” that needs to get done for and around our kids.
Whether it’s making a costume for the school play, helping out with homework or a project, birthday parties, play dates, weekend sport and after school activities, not to mention all the washing, food preparation and general life organising that has to get done, just to keep up with everything. This can all be very overwhelming!
So, how can you cope with all of this? How can you keep your head above water and manage it all so that the stress and anxiety doesn’t rub off on your lovely offspring, or effect your relationship, work and general wellbeing? The following are 4 helpful ways to deal with parental overwhelm and hopefully make the job of parenting a little less stressful:
- Make time to attend to yourself
- Get organised
- Your relationship
- Doesn’t have to be perfect
- Make time to attend to yourself and your own needs. It’s like when, on an aeroplane, they say “secure your own oxygen mask before you secure your childs”. If you can’t breathe, you can’t possibly be any help to them. So, take the time to breathe and check in with yourself. What do you need to do so that you are better able to cope with all the tasks that have to get done? It might be that you need to get some regular exercise, which will help you to better manage the stress or anxiety you may be experiencing. You might need to go and have a massage to help ease some of the tension you’ve been holding in your body. Make time to re-connect with yourself as a person (whatever that means for you), not only as a parent, so that you can fill your “cup” which will then mean that you have enough reserves to attend to your children and their needs, wants and associated admin.
- Work on getting organised. Make lists, prioritise them, diarise everything so that you don’t forget about it. Create a family calendar that you can share with your partner or whoever might also care for your child. Remember to get organised in your own life as well. Set aside time to do your own personal admin and where possible, outsource, delegate and share the load with your partner or other significant person in your childs life. You don’t have to be Superwoman/man and do it all by yourself.
- Make your relationship a priority. If you have a partner, make sure you make time for the two of you as a couple. People can quite easily fall into being “co-parents” and end up feeling like “flat mates” who just work together to manage all the child related work that needs to be done. So, make sure you have a regular “date night”, however often you can manage it, but ideally weekly or fortnightly, where the two of you can get together and remember who you are as a couple. Even if you don’t go out because babysitting is scarce, do something special at home, where you can re-connect and switch off from the daily pressures that can sometimes get in the way of spending quality time together. Think of it as an investment into your relationship, with the bonus of knowing that if you are happy as a couple, your kids will benefit too.
- Finally, give up the idea that you have to do everything or need to do it perfectly. It is so common for people to put unrealistically high standards onto themselves and sometimes onto their children too. This is not helpful and only adds to the sense of overwhelm you can feel when you are a parent. So, if you have to buy, or throw together a simple costume rather than painstakingly making an amazing creation by hand, thats okay!! If you need to order pizza or make eggs because you’ve had a crazily busy day and can’t fathom cooking a perfectly nutritious, delicious dinner, that’s okay too! Your kids will thank you for that as well.
If you have trouble with doing any of the above because you have a tendency not to look after your own needs and seem to always put others first, or can’t seem to let go of putting those very high expectations onto yourself, it may be that there are schemas and modes that are getting in the way of being able to do this (for more information on this talk to your therapist at the Good Mood Clinic). This is where therapy can be very useful, by helping to address the barriers to putting some of these coping practices into place.