Parenting is stressful!!!!!
It is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, lifelong job that you don’t get to clock out from!!!
It starts before your child is ever born, with the hopes, dreams, and goals you see for them and your family. Those dreams are full of rainbows and sunny days; imagining family outings, nighttime stories, and a long list of first times and new beginnings. It is beautiful and sought after, but it is also exhausting and messy. Along with the rainbows come the rain clouds, the dirty diapers, the over-packed schedules, and the lost sleep. Whether you have an infant, a tween, or an adult child (or anywhere in between), being a parent comes with tons of ups and downs and learning how to be both a parent and a person at the same time.
There is something that happens when you take a child into your life, whether that means giving birth, adopting, becoming a step parent, or an involved aunt/uncle; you stop thinking about you and start putting someone else’s needs first. This is a good thing, this is how we are built, it is how we can take something so small and fragile and lead it through all of life’s dangers and hurdles to help it become a strong and healthy adult (hopefully).
We are not like rest of the animal kingdom;
- Goats, deer, giraffes, horses, and cattle can all walk/run almost immediately after birth
- A wildebeest calf can run and keep up with the herd within a few days of being born
- Baby sea turtles break out of their shells and head right for the ocean all by themselves
If we did not fall in love with our children, we might follow the lead of the reptile world and abandon them quickly when they are young. Giving up when colicky cries and reversed sleep cycles drain our energy or their back-talking sassiness and oppositional mindset make us question our own sanity and ability to be a parent. But knowing that parenting is stressful and struggling is normal aren’t always enough to help you keep going. Sometimes we have to stack the deck. Find hacks, habits, and outlets that help us stay sane, give us pause before reacting, and remind us that what we do does matter.
The case for self-care
One of the other wonderful side effects of being a parent is the built in guilt complex about taking any time to take care of yourself. In looking at all of the things that need done on a daily basis and the limited amount of time in which we have to accomplish them all we can get easily overwhelmed.
- Morning routines
- School meetings
- Doctor’s appointments
- Meal preparations
- House work
- Play dates
- Shopping, etc
Viewing the list of what all may need done; we are left feeling that there is NO time to take care of ourselves without taking away from something else. The problem with this though is the concept of driving a car until your tank is empty. At some point you need to pull over and get gas. It does not mean your car is weak, or that it is not as good as all the other cars out there on the road, it just means that you are planning ahead so you don’t end up stranded on a dark empty road out of gas. Check out our Self Care Time Out blog from September 2018 for ideas on self care strategies that can be done with only two to five minutes.
Mixed Messages & Mechanics
Quite often the problem we run into in taking care of ourselves as a parent comes from messages we learned as a child, pressures put on us from social media, friends, or extended family, and even unrealistic ‘facts’ thrown at us from the world at large. We are constantly being told that we need to compare ourselves to these abstract concepts and are left feeling like we don’t measure up. That usually means we need to take a deeper look into our own belief systems about our worth and abilities as a parent.
Counseling can be helpful with this, allowing you to unpack some of those critical messages and feelings of failure and process them with a neutral and supportive source. One that will help you identify what is and isn’t realistic and how to grow as a person so you have more to give as a parent. This typically isn’t an easy process (if it was you would have already done it), but it can be a life changing one. Unlike cars, kids don’t come with manuals and neither do we. But sometimes it helps to stop at the shop and do a run through with a mechanic. Helping you to identify problem areas, but also teach you how to do the normal maintenance yourself and keep your engine running smoother and easier for the long haul. Check out our therapists to see who might be a good fit for you. About Us!
Supports For Parents:
Mothers of Preschoolers- Great resource for moms with young children who can gain support in a group setting with other moms at similar stages of life.
Positive Parenting: Full of resources on how to make parenting more fun, rewarding, and effective. They even offer teleclasses for the parent that isn’t able to schedule the time away from home but needs the extra support!
Family Education Network: Find printables, games, activities, and parenting ideas for extra levels of support
Check your local churches. Many have Sunday school or bible study classes specific to parents