Parenting is one of the toughest jobs and if you don’t stop for a moment to catch your breath, your body will definitely let you know you need to! Here are some ways to prevent parenting burnout before it catches up to you. Which will you start to focus on a daily and weekly basis?
Know your stress signs. The only way to even prevent burnout is to recognize what being stressed looks and feels like. Common signs include: heart rate spiking, muscles tighten, breath shortens, yelling or raising your voice, and/or unable to do as much as before. These are all important warning signs to pay attention to.
Ask for help. It’s tempting to handle everything on your own, but when push comes to shove, you’ll ultimately take the burden. Try asking a friend, colleague, family member or neighbor to watch your kids to run some errands or just to take a break away. There’s also so many amazing apps now that can help get things done easier - Shuddle (to help drive your kids to where they need to be), Instacart (to get your groceries delivered), and UrbanSitter (for a reliable sitter, especially if it’s last minute) just to name a few.
Solutions for high stress times. I love Maya Angelou’s quote: “When you know better, you do better”. Stress heightens at predictable times. Know that your son/daughter can’t decide (or find) their clothes in the morning? Lay them out the night before. Struggling with getting out the door on time? Set a timer to go off 5 minutes before you leave so everyone knows how much time they have left to get ready. Know your son always throws a fit before bedtime? Create a relaxing room or space to use as a transition space to ease into bedtime.
Laugh. Often. We hold most of our stress in our face - laughing and giggling is an incredible way to relieve that tension. So, why not to do more of it? Be spontaneous: have an impromptu family karaoke night, speak in an accent and try to hold it throughout dinner, pick up a pillow and gently bump your kid - it’ll be hard to resist the challenge!
Exercise. Running, swimming, biking, yoga, you name it - they all boost endorphins and reduces stress. Research shows that just 20 minutes a day is all that’s needed to feel the benefits. An even better 2-fer: exercise with your kids. Play catch, basketball, frisbee, or anything else together that you all enjoy.
Appreciating the “at least”. It can be really hard to appreciate anything when it seems like so many things are going wrong. And yet, being able to find appreciation in the hardest moments significantly improves your well-being. One of my favorite phrases to use to find gratitude in the toughest of times starts with two words: at least. “At least my daughter didn’t get suspended for talking back to her teacher”. Or, “at least my son didn’t throw a tantrum the whole time we were at the grocery store”.
Keep up with what makes you happy. Do you like to journal? Listen to music? Read? Paint? Whatever it is you enjoy, do more of that, for you. Set a daily or weekly reminder on your phone, schedule it in your calendar, grab a friend who enjoys it too - do what works best for you and make it happen.
Time out. This isn’t the kind of time out you normally think of - it’s a time out for you and your family to take a break away and collect yourselves when conflict is rising. A time out is key in the midst of stress and especially helps model for your kids that adults need time away too. Some families have an actual stop sign they created to signal taking a family break.
I’d love to hear from you! What's another way you’ve found that helps you prevent parenting burnout? What would you add to this list?
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