Having kids is one of the most incredible things you can do in your adult life but it can be extremely stressful at times. Whether you’re worrying about their health, their schooling, their friendships, at every stage of their development there seem to be new hurdles to overcome. Sometimes it can all get too much and you find yourself yelling, shouting or having a full on adult tantrum. Do you find yourself wondering how to be a calmer parent? I certainly do.
Because keeping calm and making sure you’re prioritising your own self care – for example eating right and getting enough sleep – can only help to make those parenting challenges a little easier.
One of the main tools in your parenting arsenal is the ability to listen and interpret what your child is telling you – which isn’t just the words they speak. It is very difficult to do this if you’re tired. Similarly acting as negotiator between warring siblings or explaining why junior should eat his greens require consistency, energy and, often a bit of ingenuity.
It is said that you need to apply the oxygen mask to yourself first before you can save anyone else during an in-flight emergency and the same principle applies here. It’s too easy to think that self-preservation is, well, selfish, but if it helps everyone else to live a more peaceful, loving existence then we should all be a lot more selfish.
Every single one of us needs a break now and again. Being a parent is relentless, hard work. Having time off when you need it is no bad thing. Maybe you could book a babysitter and go out for a nice meal with your partner. Perhaps your children’s grandparents or other relatives will take them out for the day, leaving you free to visit a spa, have a deep tissue massage to relieve stress or just put your feet up and do nothing!
When you have kids, you change from being ‘just you’ to a mother, and that never goes away even when your children grow up. But it’s important to maintain some of yourself that’s separate from being a parent. Keeping in contact with friends can help you to do this. They allow you to express yourself and just be ‘you’ not the wife, mother and other roles you have. You might not get to go out like you once did, but the occasional girls night, cinema trip, brunch or lunch gives you a break and allows you to keep close bonds with the important people in your life.
Dividing up responsibilities with your partner can be tricky, but it’s essential to keep everything running smoothly in the household. Every now and again you could arrange for one of you to look after the children to give the other time to themselves. This allows you both to maintain hobbies and friends, while the other does something fun with the kids which they’re sure to enjoy. Then switch, so you both get a break.
Keeping kids tired is one way to give yourself an easier life! When they’re bored, irritable and bouncing off the walls, you’re likely to get far more tantrums and challenging behavior. Before or after school each day you could take them to a park to allow them to blow off steam. It’s fun, allows them to stay healthy, get some exercise and stops them from getting bored. At the evenings or on warm weekends you could go on hikes, bike rides or kick a ball around at the park. You could also take them to play areas where they’ll tire themselves out no hassle! Getting outdoors with the kids will help to keep you in shape too as an added bonus, you will end up doing exercise without it feeling like a workout.
What do you do to stay sane with kids? Do you have any tricks for getting through a stressful day or how to be a calmer parent?