Between working, cooking, cleaning, managing schedules, and chauffeuring, parenting is a lot of work! Studies show that parents who report higher levels of stress are more likely to be authoritarian, harsh, and negative in interactions with their child. Reducing stress can allow you to relish the time you have with your children and build a happier, more positive relationship.
Children are sponges, after all – and we all know this intuitively. And there’s a small but intriguing body of evidence suggesting that beyond a child’s disposition, a parent’s stress level can affect a child’s very makeup, including his or her risk of mood disorders, addiction, and even disorders like ADHD and autism. It’s not the most popular area of research, for obvious reasons, but it’s well worth looking into.
Have fun with your children
Find interactive activities that you and your child both enjoy. Try reading to them, crafting, or making a fort! By spending positive time together, you will create memories and build a relationship outside of your daily parental responsibilities.
Live a balanced life
Don’t spread yourself too thin by signing yourself or your young children up for too many appointments and activities. Coordinating multiple packed schedules puts stress on parents and children. Leave some time open on your calendar so you have time to unwind.
Make time for yourself
When your life revolves around someone else, it can be hard to tend to your own needs. Whether it’s exercising, watching TV, talking to a friend on the phone, or just taking a long nap, focusing on yourself can help you recharge! While some parents may feel guilty for having time for themselves, it actually improves their relationships with their children. A less stressed parent is a more patient, energetic parent! And if you can’t seem to find time for yourself…
Ask for help
Enlist the help of your partner, family, friends or a child care professional to care for your child. Even your older children can watch or play with your young child while you have some time for yourself.
Being able to talk about your struggles can be a major help with alleviating stress. Spend some time talking to your partner, friends, or therapist to take the weight off your shoulders. Utilizing your support system is not only a form of self-care, but can also allow you to hear some new ideas for coping with parenting stress.