Having children of your own is a very rewarding feeling, but it comes with the sacrifices of having to dedicate a huge part of your life to raising them. On those days when you do not feel you’re at your best as a parent, what do you do? To help parents deal with the usual stress parenting brings, we have gathered great pieces of advice from professionals and parents themselves.
From Mo Mulla, Founder of Parental Questions:
Here are my Top Tips to Reduce the Stress of Parenting:
- Avoid comparing your child to other children your age.
- Be open-minded and accept that not everything you do as a parent will work for all kids, even those close in age.
- Spend time with them outside of their homes and teachers’ offices so they feel more independent throughout the day and don’t feel like they’re just parents’ property or stuck at home or school waiting on someone else’s whims and timetables for everything to go their way.
- Don’t spoil them too much – it can become a habit, and soon enough, paying attention to them doesn’t seem worth it anymore once their needs are already satisfied without requiring any effort from you to earn their attention.
- Try to set aside time to spend with your kids that’s just for you two, even if it’s just 15 minutes walking the dog or petting them behind their ears while they fall asleep in your lap. Put all work aside for this time -there are always enough users of people who will want something from us.
From Cynthia Halow, Founder of Personality Max:
Children can be quite a handful, so much so that asking you to be patient as a parent might seem too demanding. However, it can save you from stress. When your kid is being excessive, choose patience to help you find the best way to deal with the situation.
Be Selective On What You React To
There are certain things that kids do only to see your reaction. If these things can be harmful, it is best to stop them. However, the harmless ones should just be ignored or let slide.
Listen To Your Kids
Paying attention to your kids and their needs can help relieve you from stress. Sometimes they indirectly tell you what they want, and you can see it if you pay enough attention.
Let Them Make Their Own Choices
Letting your kids make choices in certain situations is good for their mental health and will also help you get to know them better. When they make their own choices, they learn to do things for themselves and save you the stress of thinking for them in all situations.
Take Care Of Yourself
Always remember that you also have a life outside of your kids. You also need love, affection, and attention. Find time to do fun things by yourself, with friends, and with your spouse. Spend time doing things you love that may or may not involve the kids, and lastly, take a break as regularly as you can. Kids can be a lot to handle.
From Ema Hidlebaugh, Minimalism Expert from Minimize My Mess:
My top tip to reduce the stress of parenting is to cut down on visual clutter in the home by rotating toys. This encourages more independent play and creativity and makes tidying up a breeze for the whole family.
To start a toy rotation, pack up all but ten toys and then swap them out for ten new toys when your little one needs a reset.
From Ema Hidlebaugh, Minimalism Expert from Minimize My Mess:
Countless people struggle to get a moment of peace in their busy, hectic lives, and many resorts to taking prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs to finally get the stress relief they need. Most people don’t know that magnesium deficiency is one of the main root causes of anxiety & stress; and getting enough of this key mineral can dramatically impact cortisol levels, resulting in increased relaxation, improved mood, and better sleep.
According to the National Institute of Health, our bodies need magnesium to function properly, but up to 70% of people don’t get the minimum amount needed every day and wind up severely deficient. Magnesium plays a key role in the body: it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for making you feel calm and relaxed. It also binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, a neurotransmitter responsible for quieting nerve activity and helping the brain calm down. But most importantly, magnesium reduces cortisol levels. A groundbreaking study by Golf et al. determined that cortisol levels decreased when patients were given supplementary magnesium, further solidifying the mineral’s role as an alleviator of stress.
Magnesium-rich foods include pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, leafy greens, and almonds. Combining these foods in a smoothie provides an excellent source of magnesium. Be aware that chocolate does contain caffeine, so use it sparingly in the evening.
In addition, using magnesium topically, in the form of creams and sprays, is an effective and natural way to boost your magnesium levels, leading to less stress and an improved mood. Topical magnesium is preferred over oral supplements because it works within minutes and doesn’t cause digestive upset, so you’re able to relax peacefully quickly. Furthermore, parents can safely use it on children to calm moods and hyperactivity.
From Kristin Marquet, Founder of Marquet Media:
So many parents need so many things right now. They need time alone, childcare, and self-care, and getting that back will not happen overnight. I think it might be helpful for parents to think of how they can slowly refuel their well-being tank over time. It’s finding those small slivers in their day where they can start to take a pause or a brain break. It might feel like, “what could a five-minute break possibly do for me? I need a year’s worth of rest!”
Many people are surprised that they start to feel better and less stressed when they take those smaller breaks because that time adds up and starts to feel restorative. Five minutes is better than nothing, so don’t wait for the bigger chunks of time, “I’ll take a break when ‘X’ happens.” Take a break now. The house isn’t going to burn down, and the world won’t come to an end.
Parents have zero breaks and zero alone time for over a year. Many parents are juggling work and child care at the same time. Lack of sleep, increased irritability, anxiety, and depression–it’s all there, and parents have to keep going.
It looks like being on a Zoom meeting while nursing or rocking your baby to sleep or trying to get your child to show up for their online schooling while needing to meet your deadlines. It’s making all meals, cleaning, making sure your child is taken care of, making sure you get your work done, and then crashing at the end of the night, only to do it all again tomorrow.
There is little room for self-care, for connecting with your partner or loved ones. There is very little space for parents to exist as individuals. It’s beyond exhausting. I hope parents can get a decent break soon.
From Michail Korovin, Chef from Pearls of Caviar:
- Listen to your child.
- Take care of yourself first.
- Have a conversation with your spouse about parenting styles and how it impacts the family unit.
- Learn from other parents by reading blogs, forums, and taking classes.
- Set clear, realistic, and achievable goals for your child.
- Be prepared to apologize and admit you made a mistake.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
- Start your day right with a cup of coffee.
- Have fun together as a family at least once a week!
- Communicate in healthy ways when overwhelmed by problems or stress.
From Barbara Santini, Psychologist from shopgiejo:
Parenting can be stressful. However, the following can help you understand your kid and make parenting easier.
Sometimes ignoring the behavior of your child is the best way to go. Alternately, noticing the bad behavior and giving choices can be the best way to handle your kid.
Create Play Time with Them
Having playtime with your kid is the best way to manage their emotions and behavior, improve their cognitive skills, and strengthen the parent-child relationship.
Praise your Child
Praising your child and making them aware you value their efforts improves their behavior and strengthens your relationship. Do not let your child’s little or big achievements go unappreciated.
Be Good at Giving Directions
If you need something or want a certain task to be done, get close to your kid, look at them, and give instructions on what to do. Also, allocate time for your kids to complete the task to make them good time managers.
From Cindy McKinley, Self-employed Writer,
- Write out a Homework Policy so there are no arguments ever again about when, where, or how to do homework.
- Organize clothes and backpack etc., the night before, so there is no rushing in the morning.
- Have a Message Center where notes are dropped off: money is picked up, spelling lists are hung, a calendar with due dates is available so that important information is not lost or forgotten, and regularly checked.
- Create a Study Area equipped with all needed materials where students can go to work, away from technology and other distractions.
- Meet the teacher early on and keep up good communication all year. It is less stressful for the whole family when everyone is on the same page, and kids know just what is expected of them- both at school and at home.
Creating routines, being prepared, setting rules, and being consistent help kids AND parents be less stressed!
From Jod Kapilakan, CEO of Abundancenolimits:
Parenting can be tough and beautiful at the same time. You look at what you have created, and a bucket of love pours out for the child. But it can be stressful as there is only so much you can do. So my tip is to share the load. If you have a partner or other family member, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Unexpected reactions often silence the kid, giving you time to relax. So choose not to react differently than often expected.
From Clyde Steuber, Marketing Manager of Independent Fashion Bloggers:
You and your partner can take turns taking care of the newborn. My wife used to take care of our daughter during the day, and I took the night shift. Since the day hours are longer, she could use a good time to sleep at night to refuel for the next day.
You have to find time for yourself away from crying and diapers. You need to keep reminding yourself of who you are apart from being a parent. Book a nanny for a couple of hours and have a fancy dinner with your partner. Or better and if possible, call one of your relatives to watch the newborn for the weekend and pamper yourself with quality time with your partner – the baby is doing fine, no need to check every second.
Agree on the Dos and Don’ts
This can be a major relief if you and your partner agree on how you would like to raise the baby, i.e., no sugar before bedtime. Agreeing on a list of dos and don’ts can be a huge relief for both parents, and you will feel less anxious while it is your partner’s turn to watch the baby.
From Lindsey Wander, CEO of WorldWise Tutoring LLC:
Put everyone’s schedule on a whiteboard. Block off times for work, school, and extracurriculars first, then add in time blocks for exercising, eating, relaxing quietly, and having fun. If your child struggles to stay focused, you can also set a timer to go off periodically as a reminder to check if they are paying attention and understanding. Or you can try a Pomodoro Timer, where they work for 25 minutes then take a 5-minute break.
I encourage parents not to fear unstructured time. Kids are innately curious, creative, and innovative – sometimes, they need the space to flourish these natural skills. So let them be bored! For parents who would like to create more structured free time, I suggest creating a Box o’ Fun full of games, crafts, hobbies, books, and other tangible activities that are age-appropriate for your child. You can also have a board with options your child can choose from, such as: doing a chore, practicing tying your shoelaces, playing with Lego, drawing a map of the house, and the like. By giving children opportunities to make choices and be independent, we empower them with life skills often not taught in the curriculum.
Don’t be afraid to seek help with academics. A good place to start is your state’s Board of Education website provides resources for different ages and subjects. Additionally, you can seek a professional educator trained and experienced in helping students of different ages and abilities. WorldWise Tutoring has tutors who can meet at scheduled times, standby office hours for last-minute help, and parent coaching for strategies to motivate and teach your unique children.
From Lauren Levy OBrien, Founder of Adensmom:
This reduces the stress of a never-ending to-do list: One of the most stressful parts of parenting is figuring out how to get it “all” done.
“Officially” splitting up tasks and responsibilities between parents (and any members of your support system) creates structure and eliminates the need for ongoing discussions about who is doing what. Not only does this simplify communication, but it reduces the stress of a never-ending to-do list since each party is only responsible for their tasks.
Every family is different, and it’s perfectly acceptable if you decide that one parent should take on more responsibilities than the other, or that both parents should split things relatively equally.
The key is that all parties are on the same page about which tasks (or categories of tasks) they are in charge of so that the household runs like a well-oiled machine.
From Maryna Shkvorets, Founder of Mars & Stars baby:
One huge reason parents get stressed is trying to accomplish too many things at once. Maybe you’re trying to send a quick email while your kid’s telling you a story, and you get frustrated because you can’t split your attention, and so you snap!
The solution? Stop multitasking!
Stop doing extra things when your child needs you to be present with them. And if you need to focus on something else (like cooking dinner or finishing up a text), tell them when they can have your attention back.
When you stop splitting your focus and give your kids the attention they need, you’ll find far less stressed as a parent.
From Jen Stark, Founder of Happy DIY Home:
One big thing you can do is take a step back. Try to pay attention to your thoughts or your body’s feelings before reacting when you’re stressed out. If you can step away from an escalating situation, you’ll most likely have a more pleasant day. Think about what you want to do to take a quick break. It can be something as simple as splashing cold water on your face, handing off parenting to your partner for a few minutes, or even taking five deep breaths.
The next big thing you can do is notice what is going well instead of focusing on what’s going wrong. This will take a while to get the hang of since it’s so easy to focus on the negative when you’re stuck in close quarters. Instead, try to focus on anything positive your kids do and tell
them! Praise them for asking politely for a snack, playing quietly together, or even sitting calmly. As a bonus, positive reinforcement can help encourage your kids to keep up the good behaviors.
From Bara Sapir, CEO of Test Prep New York:
Two quick techniques that help promote this are Heart Breathing, adapted from Heart Math, and Bi-lateral Stimulation. Both quickly regulate individuals’ emotions and promote feeling grounded. Below is how these processes work. Results are felt immediately to within 5 minutes.
This is an easy and powerful technique to help one experience emotional regulation and return to the center. To feel more relaxed and in control, and even empowered to reconnect feeling focused.
Here are the steps:
Do this for a minute.
Take a deep breath and check in with yourself. Has the stress dissipated? Likely at least a little bit – – but maybe completely. This works because you activate both hemispheres of the brain and spread blood and electrical impulses throughout the brain, which floods that area of association and diffuses it. Now, think of the same situation again and see how much anxiety, stress, or discomfort you can conjure up and rate it again on the ten-to-one scale. Pass the ball or other object for a minute and check-in. Repeat till the anxiety or discomfort has completely diffused. This is something you can do anywhere and anytime.
As soon as you start to feel anxiety or discomfort, simply grab an object—keys, a bottle of water, anything will work as long as you are moving both your arms and crossing the midline of your body.
Step 1: Heart Focus
Focus your attention on the area around your heart, the area in the center of your chest. If you prefer, the first couple of times you try it, place your hand over your heart and your other hand on the belly if it’s helpful. This helps you feel grounded, promotes a heart-body connection, and
focuses attention on the heart area.
Step 2: Heart Breathing
Breathe deeply but normally, tracing the movement of air. Imagine your breath is entering and leaving through your heart area. As you inhale, feel as if your breath is flowing in through the heart, and as you exhale, feel it departing through this area. Breathe slowly and casually, a little
deeper than normal. Continue breathing with ease until you find a natural inner rhythm that feels good to you. You may feel a shift here.
Step 3 Heart Feeling
As you maintain your heart focus and breathing, activate a positive feeling. Recall a time when you felt good inside, and take a moment to re-experience the feeling. One of the easiest ways to generate a positive, heart-based feeling is to remember a special place you’ve been to or the
love you feel for a close friend or family member, or treasured pet. It can be anything. This is the most important step. Do this until you feel greater ease in your body and mind. This shift typically occurs within 30 seconds and up to 5 minutes.
This technique involves stimulating both sides of the brain to stop anxiety or unwanted feelings of discomfort. It is absurdly simple yet amazingly effective. Grab a ball (or lemon or anything you can toss) and think of something causing you discomfort and anxiety. When you can feel that anxiety somewhere in your body, rate the level of it on a scale of one to ten, with ten the most intense.
Now pass the ball back and forth, crossing your body’s midline from one hand to the other. By doing this, you are stimulating both hemispheres of the brain. It will have a more rapid effect if you keep one hand in front of you, as the other, swing out to the side each time you pass the ball,
similar to a desktop Newton’s Cradle.
From Janel Carey, Founder of The Evil Mommy:
When I am feeling stressed from the daily chaos of raising three teenagers, I try to refocus my energy and find one or two good things that have happened that day. Spending just a few minutes on a breathing exercise (breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds) and coming up with something I am grateful for is usually enough to center me and prepare me to deal with the rest of the day. This is simple enough to do while waiting to pick them up from a sports practice or walking out to get the mail. Sometimes, we need 30 seconds of calm to ground ourselves, and then we can handle the stresses so much better.
From Katie Hodge, Content Director from Generator Magazine:
Parenting can be a stressful activity if not done in the right way and so, I would like to suggest some ways to reduce the stress, thereby giving the parenting process its real enjoyment and happiness!
Promoting positivity and radiating it all over the family is important. So, recognizing the factors of positivity around the home is necessary to maximize them.
Indeed, there are a lot of things to look around at our home to plan, but it is always better to plan little by little, concentrating on achieving the early goals and then moving on with further goals.
Parenting is all about getting into the perspective of the young ones’ minds to provide what is best for them, which is why the presence of an open conversation comes mandatory.
It is good to step back once in a while. Yes, you heard it right! Consider that stepping back is only to move forward with a better step ahead, with more insights and reasons.
From Dave Pedley, Owner of Your Cub:
Parenting can be stressful, believe me, I know, but here are some tips to
help you reduce that stress.
- Spend some time a couple of times a day playing with your kids. Get on the floor with, get onto their level. This will build the bond, help the kids with cognitive skills, and help them to manage their emotions and behavior.
- Concentrate on the positive things. Paying attention when your kids are good when they do what they are told and praising them will enrich the relationship, promote good behavior and lower your stress.
- Give clear directions with simple tasks, and wait for a positive response.
- If you feel yourself stressing or are about to snap, step back. Rather de-escalate a situation and take a quick break.
- Be more affectionate. Extra hugs and kisses might not seem like a fantastic solution, but quite often, it is just what children need to help manage their emotions.
- Take time out for yourself, do some yoga, go for a walk.
- Help the children to manage their own stress and teach siblings to work out their differences and help each other when needed.
From Kathryn Egly, Owner of Kathryn Egly Blog:
Being a mom is incredible, but it can also be incredibly hard.
I try to get the house picked up before I go to bed at night, but then by 10 a.m., it looks a hurricane swept through. Breakfast is finished, but dishes are piled in the sink, spilled milk was on the floor, and “sort of” wiped up. I look in the living room, and my four sons have pulled out every pillow and blanket we own to make a fort. I look around at the messy house and feel overwhelmed.
Some thoughts that go through my head:
I’ll never have a clean house.
I can’t do this.
I give myself about 60 seconds to feel that way; then, I purposefully stop myself. I choose to think different thoughts, and my mood immediately changes.
“I can’t do this” is replaced with I get to do this.
My sons will grow up, and I will have a clean house again – and I’ll probably miss this. Messes mean life is happening here.
I purposefully choose gratitude!
I look at the breakfast crumbs and spills and think, “My kids aren’t hungry. They have food to eat!”
I look at the pile of pillows and blankets (aka “the fort”) in the living room and think, “They are creative! They are playing together!”
Motherhood is a journey, a hard but joy-filled journey in which your life isn’t your own anymore. It’s about choosing joy even with the mess, the noise, and the lack of free time. It’s choosing gratitude when the enemy tells you that you are depressed.
I’m choosing joy one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time.
From Dr. Bryan Bruno, Medical Director of Mid City TMS:
Parenting is the most important and difficult job any person can take on, and with hard work comes stress. Experiencing parental stress is very normal and something everyone experiences. Here are some tips for managing parenting stress.
- Take a step back if you feel your stress affecting how you interact with your children. Excuse yourself to another room to breathe, or ask a partner or another caretaker to occupy them while you go for a walk. You are responsible for managing your emotions, so do what you can to get them under control.
- Keep track of what is going well. Keep a list of positive interactions with your children and praise them when they listen to your guidance. Parents sometimes tend to focus on what is going wrong, but acknowledging positives in your life will shift your mindset and your family’s.
- Maintain the house however you can. A cluttered environment increases stress, but cleaning can be even more stressful, take steps to reduce the pressure of house maintenance. Hire a cleaner, assign clutter bins to each room to reduce mess, or incentivize chores for your children. Even asking a friend to help with the dishes can provide some relief.
- Make sleep a priority. Tiredness worsens stress, and while you’re not guaranteed a full 8 hours with children, take steps to improve the sleep you do get. Decrease technology use before bed, meditate or read to ease your mind, or treat yourself to a new mattress.
- Make time for your joy. Parenting is an identity, but it is not your only one. Remember to engage in activities outside of your children that make you happy. Schedule dates with your partner or weekly calls with a friend, join a club, or return to a forgotten hobby. Allowing yourself a small amount of personal time can help maintain your well-being and relationship with your children.