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What to do when the stress of parenting gets the best of you.

Sad depressed woman suffering from insomnia she is sitting in bed and touching her forehead sleep disorder and stress concept

Parenting stress is real. Children and teens can present with unpredictable challenges. Most parents want to do a great job and give their children the best to increase their chances for success later in life. But, what happens you hit a rough spot with your child? Let’s face it, every parent does, and for some, the difficulties can last for a long time creating mental and physical exhaustion in parents.

Prolonged stress can have detrimental effects on your mind and body. You might be experiencing sleepless nights, worry, changes in your appetite, anger, and hopelessness. It’s easy to start questioning everything you know about parenting a child. Please don’t think that others are doing it well; they’re struggling, too.

Self-care is the modern buzzword for taking care of yourself. It’s essential, but often we confuse it with a single act, such as getting a massage or going shopping. Self-care is more of a concept and mindset. Tending to your needs must be a priority or stress will get the best of you. Ultimately, you’ll be no good to anyone, but especially your children.
Self-care means centering your thoughts and actions toward doing what’s best for you. It means learning how to say no and not feeling guilty, not overcommitting yourself, tending to your emotional and physical health. It means carving out time to exercise, meditate, pray, spending time alone, and being realistic with your expectations of yourself.
Taking care of yourself means accepting that you’re not going always to be the perfect parent or know the all of the answers. It means allowing your imperfections and limitations. You cannot give up your parenting responsibilities, but you can be more forgiving of yourself.

Here’s a self-care plan that you can adapt for your needs:

  1. Say no at least twice over the next week and fight the urge to feel guilty.
  2. Schedule time to be alone. You might have to hire a sitter or get a friend to assist, but being alone means just that.
  3. Re-engage in a hobby or interest that you had before kids. Examples, reading, knitting, walking, etc.
  4. Find 15 minutes a day and exercise. You don’t need to do more than walk.
  5. Journal. Writing is therapeutic. You can say whatever is on your mind, release any pent-up frustrations and if done consistently, can help you to heal from negative experiences.
  6. Limit your commitments. The world will not end if you opt out of doing something,
  7. Ask for help. There’s no shame in being vulnerable and saying you need help.
  8. Do something fun and inexpensive with your children. A little downtime can help to rekindle fractured relationships.
  9. Seek support. Find a group in your area that provides support to parents. Sometimes it might be a parenting group that will help you to learn more skills to manage your child.
  10. Don’t be afraid to seek therapy. If your circumstances have gotten you to the point of feeling depressed, anxious, or hopeless, it’s time to request a consultation with a therapist. You’ll feel better and empowered to make meaningful changes in your life.

We see lots of adults at CCD. We have therapists who specialize in parenting stress. If you want relief, to feel more confident, learn how to establish healthy boundaries with your children and others, we can help you.
Call the intake department at 302-292-1334 x101.

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Center for Child Development
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