It’s summer! Well, actually, the middle of summer. It is crazy how fast time flies when you are having fun and staying busy. Yes, very busy! Working, playing, swimming, tennis, yoga, and more working. Why are we so busy?! It is summer! There should be less structure, no homework, more downtime, longer days, and warmer nights. Parenting should be easier, smoother, and less stressful … right?
Somehow, ironically, I find that my own family feels even busier in the summer. I am hearing from many clients the same thing. We are all more rushed, getting everyone to all of their summer activities, planning the “perfect” vacation, and still getting to the office with your morning coffee in hand to work all day. It can be very stressful, even though it is SUMMER! And let me be the first to say that summer is racing by at breakneck speed.
So we are going to work on slowing that down! We are going to work on breaking down the stress so that we can really enjoy and soak up this summer with our families. Summer definitely is precious, fleeting time with our kids.
Here are 10 stress relieving tips for parents. These tips come from the amazing and insightful Dr. Laura Markham, who is always spot on! If you can commit to even just one or two of these strategies, you will see and FEEL a shift immediately. Especially in your connection and relationship with your children and yourself!
Start with just one of these strategies and work up to all ten. Let me know how it goes! You will start to see a shift in your life and relationship with your kids as your begin to relieve and tackle your summer stress. As always, contact me if you need more support, or to schedule a complimentary consultation. During this consult we will talk about your greatest parenting challenges and goals, and your true intentions. What’s getting in the way of reaching your goals and parenting with your true intentions? We can create a realistic step by step action plan to make it all happen. Contact me today!
10 Stress Relieving Strategies for Parents
“I'm stressed, we're rushing, and before I know it, I'm yelling. When I see the look on his face, I feel awful. He was just being a kid. And I was just stressed out.” -- A summer parent
As every parent learns, the best parenting doesn’t happen when you're stressed out, no matter how positive your intentions.
It's true that modern life creates a ton of stress, but it's also true that what stresses out one person may just roll off the back of another. So stress is partly what happens to us, but mostly our reaction to it. Each of us has a responsibility as a parent to manage our own stress. After all, do you want your kids to have the best of you -- or what's left of you?
A three pronged approach works best:
Pare down the stressors in your life.
Keep your cup full so that you have more internal resources to deal with the curveballs that life inevitably throws at you.
Retrain your attitude so you notice as you slip into stress-mode and can make the choice to shift gears.
Here are ten stress-busting strategies that draw on all three strategies, that you can use starting today.
1. Pay Attention to Breathing
Pay attention to breathing, calmly and deeply, as often as you remember, all day long.
Remembering to breathe may sound simple, but it will change your life. Late for an appointment? Breathe. Kids just dump their toys in the toilet? Breathe. Taking deep breaths so you get more oxygen actually reduces the stress hormones circulating in your body.
Noticing your breath is like using a pause button. It brings you back into the moment, so you have a choice. Do you really want to get hijacked by the stress and end up yelling at your kid, or could you choose a better way to handle things?
Put post-its up all over your house and in your car to remind you, and when you see one, take 3 deep breaths. The practice will make it more effective when you have one of those inevitable stress-inducing moments.
2. Pare Down Your Schedule
Much of the stress we feel comes from routinely over-scheduling. But that's a choice we make. We think it's helpful to squeeze more in, but it always costs us. Kids thrive on connection, so when we get too busy to just hang out and connect with them, they act out.
Prioritize your kids and your relationship. Then drop anything else you can. Your house can stay a mess a little longer. Serve scrambled eggs and raw carrots for dinner. (Yes, that is nutritionally fine.) Your children need you in a good mood much more than they need you to cook.
Sleep is an essential stress buster. Your body uses your sleep time to heal and restore a better biochemical balance. This is hard, because sleep often feels out of our control. But you can get more sleep, even if it means going to bed when the kids do. Just do it. Even a few days a week of this discipline will shift your mood.
Exercise is the best stress reducer there is, after deep breathing and getting enough sleep. Twenty minutes of sweat inducing activity every day will cut cortisol levels and put you in a good mood. What more incentive do you need? Turn on the music and get your kids dancing with you!
5. Cut Your Kid Some Slack
You don't need to stress about every little misstep from your child. The fact that Michael clobbered his playmate or Jillian smeared poop on the wall doesn’t mean they’ll be psychopaths. Most childish behavior is developmentally appropriate. This is your baby, showing you in the best way he can that he needs your love and understanding. Most acting out can be cured by your reconnecting with your child and getting some real laughter going between you, which heals both your stress. On those days when you're ready to tear your hair out, remember that moment when you first held your child in your arms, and how lucky you felt. You're still that lucky, and you can still feel that way. It's a choice.
6. Postpone Anything but Love
What about those times when you really do need to intervene to set a limit with your child? Go ahead. But first, remind yourself that it's not an emergency. You don't have to teach your child a lesson this very moment. In fact, all you have to do right now is keep everyone safe and return yourself to Calm. Anything you need to say to your child, you will say better once you're calm and able to reconnect with love. This eliminates the stress of feeling so pressured and powerless in that moment to say the right thing to your child (or, in most cases, to come up with the right threat!) It also prevents saying things you're sorry for later, so it makes you a more effective parent.
7. Give Up Perfectionism
Sure, life is messy, but is that any reason to postpone love and happiness? You're more than enough, just the way you are. There are no perfect people, and there are no perfect parents. Trying to be perfect is a huge source of stress. It tightens a vise around your heart. Loving yourself – really feeling your love for yourself, even though you aren't perfect – may be the single most important thing you can do to de-stress and help your child thrive. Practice positive self-talk. Find ways to nurture yourself. If you simply must evaluate yourself as a parent, never judge yourself by your child's behavior, but by your reaction to it. Only love today.
8. Count Your Blessings and Cultivate Optimism
Every time you start to feel negative, find as many things as you can to be grateful for, and really feel that gratitude. Research shows this practice reduces stress and improves health and happiness.
9. Find Support
Parenting is the hardest job there is. We ALL need support, someone we can vent to who won't judge us or try to fix us. If you need more of that kind of support in your life, find other parents with whom you feel comfortable and start building new friendships. Listen to parenting audios that soothe and inspire you. Find yourself a parenting coach with whom you can check in occasionally. Even the simple act of writing in a journal has been proven to be an effective way of supporting ourselves and coming to peace with things that bother us.
10. Find Spirit in Your Life
This can mean a higher power, but it doesn't have to. Just step away from the distractions and find the quiet that inspires you to connect with your deepest wisdom. For some of us, it’s as simple as a walk in the woods or gazing at the stars. Your kids benefit from quiet time in nature too. We all need to reconnect regularly with the miracles that make life worth living.
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