Stressed Parent? Keeping Yourself On The Sanity Wagon
It seems that everybody has their own opinion of how stressful life is as a parent. But, while everybody handles stress in their own different ways, there are going to be times when you feel that you can't keep a handle on everything. Maybe you're having a bad day, or you are raising a toddler where spilling water over the floor, combined with potty training accidents (as well as an abundance of noise) is just one step too far for your frazzled brain. Keeping your sanity as a parent is vital, but keeping a lid on it is very difficult from time to time. So, even if you are the most chilled out parent in the world, you are still going to have moments of insanity, so how can we all keep ourselves on the right side of sane?
Changing Your Perspective On The Event
It can feel like the end of the world when you've cleaned every single spill off the floor, but another one is there to replace it in a matter of seconds. This feeling of it being a constant barrage is one of the reasons that we get stressed in the first place, and we can feel ourselves slowly going over the edge. But, it's important at this juncture to realize your perspective. Remember, a mess can be cleaned up, and at the end of the day, it's not the worst thing that can happen in the world. The fact is we can all feel that a bit of spilled food is an absolute disaster. In actual fact, it's a bit of mess that can be cleaned up in a matter of seconds. And yes, while we can feel that we've cleaned up our home a zillion times during the space of a day, it isn't the worst thing that can happen to us. It can take some time to change our perspective of the events which is why it's important to get a little bit of space, so you can actually calm down and look at the situation for what it really is. The expression “don't cry over spilled milk” is something that should be at the forefront of every parent’s mind.
Knowing When To Walk Away
While changing your perspective of the situation can take some time to get right, there are going to be moments when you are feeling supremely stressed. Not just in terms of your child pushing you to your very limits, but there are other things going on in your life, which all adds up to a big boiling pot of emotion. Gaining perspective of an event and realizing how insignificant it is in the grand scheme of things is not usually achievable when you are in the eye of the storm, this is why it's important for you to take a step away from time to time, so you can have that perspective. If you are cleaning up after your child's mess all day, and they are screaming, having tantrums, and there's everything else going on in your life, and the fact that the postman ringing the doorbell is the last straw, you know that if you were to step away from the situation and look at it from another point of view, you'd wonder why you were so stressed in the first place. Taking a step away to have a breather or to calm down is essential. We've all been there, and this is why we have to realize when we are getting to boiling point. Walking away, and even putting yourself in another room, and shutting the door, just so you can take a deep breath, is going to help your sense of sanity, but just 5 minutes away will do wonders for you, especially if you haven't had a break for hours.
Understanding Your Own Stress Triggers
We tend to avoid confronting our own stresses because it means either turning the mirror on to ourselves or actually having to undergo a stressful experience. It's something we don't like, but if we get to know at what point in life we feel at our most stressed, whether it's due to a certain incident, or we have specific triggers, by identifying these, we can then begin to take the positive steps to get rid of them. Once we can identify what makes us anxious, we finally have that perspective to realize what the situation actually is, and that it's not as bad as we once thought. But, identifying these triggers is only half the battle. If there are things in our life that will constantly stress us out, and we can't escape from that, this is when we have to find methods to calm down. This is where mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises come into their own. While we know that our child can stress us out, we can't simply walk away from them all of the time, as this communicates the wrong message. Instead, it's about a healthy combination of calming ourselves down but also communicating with our child why they are stressing us out. It's amazing, that in today's world, that we still tell our children not to do something, and when they ask why, we say “because I said so.” But this doesn’t give our children any knowledge of what their actions are causing. If our children are old enough to know when they are pushing our buttons, it's important to be firm in explaining what they are doing that is so naughty, but at the same time, we know that it's going to be met with a major backlash, and while persistence is key, until you get through to them, in the meantime, you need to find ways to keep yourself calm. It's that age-old approach to showing your child that they are not getting to you. It all depends on each child, but a healthy combination of the two will eventually get the message through to them, but at the same time, you are not succumbing to the stress. So, what can we do to calm ourselves down? As already said, meditation is something that a lot of people now do, but it's very difficult to do when you're in the middle of a stressful environment. Instead, consider breathing exercises, such as box breathing, especially when you are shutting yourself away from the situation for 5 minutes. 5 minutes is all it takes for you to calm down by doing box breathing because this gives you control over your autonomic nervous system. Take the opportunity every morning to do at least five minutes of box breathing, and preferably, up to 20 minutes. This is something that isn't just for hippie parents; it's actually something that Navy Seals do! Doing this, in combination with having a good idea of what your triggers are, you can work in a comprehensive fashion to minimize this stress. After all, stress isn't good for us in any way, and we don't want to feel that being a parent is just a ball of stress from the moment our children wake up to their bedtime.
Treating Yourself When It All Gets Too Much
We can't be a perfect parent all the time, and the sooner we make our peace with this, the better. When it comes to keeping our sanity firmly in check, life is going to get on top of us no matter how much we practice deep breathing or maintain a positive attitude. But what we do when we feel this way, is beat ourselves up about it. Instead, accept the fact that you veered off course and move on. This is a far healthier approach to our frame of mind. In addition to this, there are going to be times when there are various factors that add up to a bad day that is beyond your control. A lot of people feel stress and anxiety because they cannot control the situation, and this is what happens; it's part of life. Instead, it's about taking those little moments of quiet and using them to our advantage. Something as insignificant as a nice cup of coffee is what a lot of parents look forward to first thing in the morning, and once they've had that, then they can get on with their day. But, if there is no letup in life until the children are fast asleep, you need to take the opportunity to wind down, no matter where you are. While it's generally frowned upon, if you can take advantage of a prepaid internet service, and watch something on your phone while you are waiting in the car for your child to get out of school, it gives you that opportunity to focus on something else that's not your stress and anxiety. And at the same time, thinking about doing things that are just for you, instead of staring at that pile of ironing or laundry, and this tower of t-shirts making you realize how much you actually have to do, this is why stress actually gets on top of us. Instead, focus on yourself, and treat yourself to these little things that, although insignificant, will help you to regain a sense of self. This is why so many of us watch mindless reality TV because it gives the opportunity to switch off our brain. This is vital to relaxing and replenishing our energy.
It's a long road, but keeping your sanity as a parent is vital. It's not going to be easy, but if you find yourself falling off the sanity wagon from time to time, think about these things.