Becoming a parent thrusts you into a new world of great responsibility, many challenges, and fantastic potential for personal growth. Whether or not it is true that parenthood makes us “grow up,” there is no doubt that parenthood brings a mixture of rewards and difficulties that are at times extraordinary.
Parenting is a life time commitment and for some, it can be a significant source of stress. A study of 2,000 mums and dads found the daily worries which put parents on edge also included bath time, getting homework finished and keeping screen time to a minimum.
Parental distress can affect children in powerful ways. These are described as “parent effects” on children’s behaviour and development. One of the most challenging things we face as a parent is that our children are watching us and learning how to handle their life’s ups and downs from what they see us doing.
Here are some tips to help you handle and prevent your stress in a healthy way:
1. Try not to bring stress home
It’s not easy but separating work life from home life is essential and useful. Try talking briefly to a friend, spouse or colleague to help defuse stress before you leave work
2. Seek opportunities for fun
Find some activities that you could do with your kids. You’ll feel better about yourself and it will help you all reinforce your relationships
3. Remember to relax and recharge
Take time for yourself every day. Even if it’s just an hour in the evening when kids go to bed. Really important for parents to rest. Do something you enjoy
4. Ask for help or backup
Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted? Don’t be reluctant to ask your family or spouse for help. Trying to be Supermum or Superdad is a recipe for stress. You will be a better listener and you’ll enjoy interacting more with your children and more likely to model healthy behavior for them
5. Connect with fellow parents
This will help you feel that you are not alone and learn more about what to expect in the coming years and prepare for each development stage. Talking to other parents lets you learn effective strategies to manage your stress
6. Take a break from it all
When did you last truly connect with your partner? You deserve a break from your children and you should not feel guilty for wanting to take a break either. Plan to get away from your everyday routine. Plan to get away with your family too. It is one of the only ways we can escape and get away and forget about work and a strict schedule
7. Keep your life well-balanced
Avoid overscheduling yourself every day and on weekends. Signing up your children for lots of extra activities can stress them out. Also, every day balanced life is important. Most of us take on more than we can handle, and then feel irritated about having said “yes” when we wanted to say “no.” Be brave about trimming your commitments down!
BIS Abu Dhabi School Counselling Team