Parenting has its ups and downs. Some days it might be a lot harder, as with most of life’s seasons. How do we handle bad parenting days? On days you feel extreme physical exhaustion, emotionally drained and on the verge of giving up, know that it is normal and that you are not alone in feeling that way.
5 Steps to Dealing with Bad Parenting Days
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Inevitably, we tend to the harshest – on ourselves and our children.
Instead of being a critic, be gentle with yourself. Sometimes we make mistakes because of the unnecessary guilt we unleash on ourselves. This may aggravate the problem.
Start by acknowledging your bad days, know that they are normal and we are all imperfect parents who will try again to be better.
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Know that there are seasons
One golden tip from a more experienced parent never left me – it was that there are always seasons, seasons in life and seasons in parenting.
They will come and go, and then another season comes with different kinds of joy as well as challenges. Parents of newborns can certainly identify with this – the days are long and the nights are short. The diaper change and sleep debt will soon give way to parenting children who are more independent but would test boundaries.
Whether you are feeling physically sapped or mentally exhausted, know that your child will only be in this season for a while.
This season too shall pass.
Take some time to relax and recharge
Self-care time is key to help exhausted parents recharge.
Take some time off and do something you really enjoy. Whether it’s a spa treat, a massage, taking a walk, go cycling, taking a Spin class – being away for a while can do wonders for the spirit.
Engage trusted caregivers to babysit, and know that you need that little break.
Reflect on self
While you are alone, perhaps take some time to do some self-reflection.
What would you have done differently upon hindsight?
Is there a different perspective you can have of the issue?
Does your child need help that you can give?
What are some ways you can help your child?
Addressing the issues within yourself can help in preparing you for more challenges. Also the self is usually one of the few factors within your sphere of influence. We cannot change how our children will behave or think, but we certainly can change the way we approach the issues.
Set little goals, Celebrate little progresses
Instead of thinking “Why is the child being so difficult to teach”, think “I get to help my child improve”. Or “Why is the baby not sleeping?”, think “I can help my baby with just one nap.”
If your child is being rude and defiant, help your child to work on the flaws. The habits will not change overnight but celebrate little progresses.
Set little goals for yourself and your child and meet the small goals one by one. It can be less overwhelming this way.
Speak to like-minded parents or a mentor
Parents who have gone through similar seasons can give valuable advice on coping. Speak to them, especially those who share the same values. Or speak to a mentor – whether it’s an older parent, a religious leader or a life coach to hear their perspectives.
It takes a different point of view to knock us off our “tower of self-pity and judgement” at times.
You are Not a Bad Parent, You are just having a Bad Day
Don’t persist in feeling guilt as this guilt is likely to be unhelpful. Focus on the want to improve to try different perspectives and methods. Do what you can, try your best. Having a bad day or some bad moments does not mean you are a bad parent, these are just opportunities to try again and do better next time.