Today was our first Snow of the season! It was so nice not to go anywhere and rush around town. We stayed in the entire day and relaxed.
Sure, I had a bunch of errands I could have run, but we put them off until another day. It made me realize how much everyone is always rushing around to do things and don't 'stop enough to smell the flowers.' Being a Mom or Dad Parent is the hardest job you will ever have. And with that being said, it is the most stressful! You have to take time to yourself to de-stress, or you will not be a good parent, spouse or partner.
Taking on too much as a parent can be overwhelming and can lead to resentment to your child and your partner, boss, etc. As a counselor, I was always taught that if you do too much, then the 'helping will start to hurt.' So all of our efforts at counseling others can start to hurt ourselves if we don't avoid burnout. Parents need to help prevent burnout as well.
And, when our kids sense we are stressed, they get stressed too. What can you do to de-stress yourself?
When it comes to taking care of your kids, I've learned a few tips from other parents and the counseling world:
1. Learn to say 'No.' Do not take on more tasks, chores, parties, events, etc than you can handle. Your life is no longer what it was before you had kids. You can not possibly be a social butterfly and be a parent at the same time. No over-committing!
2. Don't sweat all the housework- leave some things undone for the next day! You need to take care of yourself and spend time with your child. If you are a working parent, make sure the household chores are agreed upon as much as possible if you have a partner. You don't want to do too much after a long day at work- you want to spend it with your kids. Either get a maid to come and clean so you don't have to do housework all night long after a day at work, or make sure you and your partner have agreed what chores to do. Single parents that are working have it harder. Having friends or family come over on the weekends that can help babysit so you can manage your house.
3. For older kids, it helps for them to have certain chores and will take some stress off of you as the parent. Kids doing chores helps boost kid's self-esteem if they have responsibilities too.
4. Tell yourself you are not perfect and will make mistakes!
5. Take a nice relaxing bath once a week, if not every day! Schedule this on your calendar so you make sure you have time for it when your child goes to bed or in the mornings. Also you can schedule your favorite de-stress activity if you don't take baths such as a pedicure, massage or a Starbucks outing.
6. Take a nap when your child naps. Sure, you may not get those chores done, but they can always wait!
7. Make sure if you are married, to take turns spending time alone without kids. If you are a stay at home mom or dad, when your partner comes home, go out and run an errand alone. Go to the gym, or just run to the area Walgreens if you have to. (Also, if you have a newborn, allow yourself to get out for at least an hour a day without your baby). If you can't leave, then take that bath, go to your room and read a book or magazine alone). Going 3 days in a row without a break is enough to send anyone into stressmode!
8. Again, tell yourself you are not perfect and will make mistakes!
9. Arrange family or friends to babysit even if it's for a couple of hours for a quick dinner or date night. If you are a stay at home mom, have a friend/family come over for a Moms Day Out once a week or once a month if possible. If your child is older, plan a child-free vacation. If you have a young baby, take a baby vacation! Even if it's just 1 night away at an area hotel. But only when you feel comfortable and ready to leave your young child with someone you trust. You don't want to be away and constantly worrying- that is not the goal :)
10. When you are feeling you are about to explode, tell your young child you will be right back and put them in a contained area if they are supervised or if they are older, have them watch a movie. For babies, you can put them in their crib- these are safe places where they can't hurt themselves. And take a Mommy or Daddy Time-Out! Make yourself some hot chocolate, a cup of coffee or go make a quick phone call to a friend to de-stress. Some argue that TV should not be a babysitter, but when you are on the verge of a meltdown, I think it is a lifesaver for you and your child!
11. Schedule girl or guys night outs once a month if possible. Date nights are great, but we all need some time away with the girls or boys!
12. Practice good bedtime routines, so your child isn't cranky in the mornings or weekends plus, it makes your evenings easier! If your child goes to bed at 8pm every night, it is much easier to plan things. Of course, sometimes things change if your child is sick, etc. so you have to be somewhat flexible.
13. Keep a family calendar of activities so everyone can see what is going on for the month.
14. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You can't do it all by yourself, and the sooner you ask for help, the easier it will be on you! Ask for help from your spouse, family, and friends. Even if it's a little chore such as folding clothes to scrubbing the baseboards. It even pays to learn to ask for help from the person walking in front of you at the mall, so they can hold the door for you and your kids! It doesn't hurt to ask a stranger :)
15. Practice good morning routines. Take turns with your spouse for sleeping in and the other gets up with the kids on the weekends. On school days, have good routines and set out things the night before so the next morning is not a rush. But allow for flexibility- sometimes things won't go according to plan and it's O.K.! Mornings can be the most stressful, so make sure you have established somewhat of a good routine.