Whether you are a stay-home or working parent, the stresses of raising a child can be overwhelming. The stress and anxiety can often lead to more impatience and an overreaction to small incidents, and damage the parent-child relationship irrevocably. It is important to also find time to take care of your own mental state. In turn, this will help you be a better parent.
8 Ways for Parents to Care for Their Mental Health
1. Prioritise rest time
It might seem like work and responsibilities are never-ending as parents. Waking early for school runs, preparing meals, chores, work responsibilities, supervision take up every ounce of energy. Get some rest with a 20 minute catnap, or just chilling with a book when children are in bed. Or simply prioritise sleep instead of time on social media or TV. A better rested being makes for a happier one.
2. Lower Expectations – Doing it All is a Myth
We might often read or hear accounts of “supermums” or “superdads” doing it all or having it all. Fact is – they couldn’t have done it all, on their own. Not everyone has access to finances or resources or even a solid support system. So don’t expect that from yourself or partner. Lower your expectations whether it’s about cleanliness, home-cooked meals, good grades or ideals of the perfect household.
Clinging on to ideals may leave us more miserable and placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves and our children. So let it go, do what you can and learn to be contented with the lot you have been given.
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3. Look on the Bright Side
It is easy to see greener grass elsewhere and miss your own pasture. Staying positive by focusing on the good things can help with a change in mindsets. Journal down thanksgiving daily, and even getting the family to share about them would help alleviate the stresses and anxiety in life. Rather than being anxious about what you don’t have, how about counting your blessings?
4. Go Outdoors with your Family
I recall as a young mum – heading out often with my boys so everyone is happier with more space. We would head to a park nearby and just enjoy the fresh air, weather and playtime. It fills their buckets as well as mine. One plus point is – less mess at home to clean up!
5. Work out
Exercising makes you happier. That’s scientifically proven! Your body releases endorphins when you exercise, these react with the brain receptors to reduce the perception of pain and stress. Regular exercise helps reduce stress, boost self-esteem, improve sleep and also makes you feel more energetic thanks to the endorphins. Visit the gym, join a pilates class, cycle around the neighbourhood or take some virtual classes. Better yet, exercise WITH your family!
6. Go on a Social Media Detox
Comparison is the thief of joy. Sometimes social media can do more harm than good as you scroll through picture perfect feeds, seemingly trouble-free lives, designer homes, over-achieving kids and perfectly made meals. Turn all the distractions off, you really don’t need to look at the bragging platforms. Unfollow accounts that do not matter and purge your feed off negative influences, especially those that pose way too much for the gram.
7. Meet Like-minded Friends
Meeting up with friends for a meal and leaving the children in the care of your spouse or other reliable babysitters will be a balm for the weary soul. Good friends often give some precious perspectives and offer solutions to various issues, while keeping you grounded with shared values. I appreciate my close friends who give me valuable perspectives whether it’s about work or parenting. They also provide needful perspectives outside of the family to give a less biased view sometimes!
8. Hone a Skill or Pick up a Hobby
Pick a cathartic process you enjoy – art, baking, cooking, walking, gardening. My go-to is baking sourdough. I often joke that working with dough is much more predictable than children. Hobbies help relieve stress, and helps you to work on a skill which you might need in your career or in a possible vocation in future. You might never know where your new skill or hobby may lead you!
Mental Wellness Begins with Us
The importance of self-care cannot be over-emphasised. Growing demands juggling our various roles can lead to much anxiety that results in friction in the family. Let’s take some time to care for our own mental health so we can better care for our family’s as well.