I'M OVERWHELMED: 5 Tips On How Parents Can Take Control Of Their LivesBy Linda Milo
Are you feeling overwhelmed being a parent? Do you want to feel more relaxed and empowered raising your child? Working parents, stay-at-home parents, visiting parents – it doesn’t matter which one you are because these days almost every parent feels overwhelmed by their daily day. Parents every day experience anxiety, stress and despondency because they feel as if they are losing control of their natural balance. The natural balance that once allowed them to walk, talk and chew gum slowly - all at one time! Now you are running to work, picking up children, grocery shopping, doing laundry, paying bills, taking your child to some lesson, etc. Those days when you had control over your life, can be re-lived again by knowing how to create a structured life that incorporates extra time, a swing to your step and the ability to believe that you can accomplish what needs to be done, in addition to being a fun and caring parent. Below are five tips that can start you on the path of feeling a positive glow about yourself.
1. Create Routines – Routines are established by parents to manage their own behavior and also to manage the behavior of their child. A routine actually nurtures the positive overall growth of your child. A routine helps to create consistency, and consistency allows you and your child to feel secure. Create a “routine calendar.” Get a large sheet of paper and write down what needs to be done daily (hour by hour). A time slot for each activity, whether it be work or play. This routine calendar is a plan for each hour of the day. For example: 6:30 AM – wake up, shower, dress; 7:15 AM – wake children, help them dress; 7:45 AM – start breakfast and have your child make sack lunches, etc. (Do not forget to put down chores for each child in this calendar). Two personality traits that develop from a routine are positive thoughts and feelings children have about themselves. Routine doesn’t allow for frenzy and uncertainty. Routine says I know what is being done and when it is being done. Most importantly, stick to the routine each and every day. Watch your life become more manageable.
2. Nurturing – A part of every single day should be devoted to nurturing your relationship with your child. Whether the specific time for concentrated nurturing is in the day or night doesn’t matter…what does matter is that you spend at least one-half an hour a day doing something with your child. Choose an activity (massages, games, toys, exercises, dancing, joking, being silly) that nurtures you and your child’s spirit. These daily nurturing sessions will stimulate the growth of your child and allow you to become child-like once again yourself. You can feel very refreshed by having an unstructured playtime with your child. Your feelings of being overwhelmed throughout the day should just melt. The quality of your child’s emotional growth is largely a part of their reflection of their relationship with you. Seeing you smile, having a light cheerful voice creates an exceptional fun and healthy bonding for both of you.
3. Create Limits – Feeling hopeful and empowered with your child starts with you defining the “limits” of what you think is acceptable behavior. Set limits on acts, but not on your child’s spirit. When your four year old decides to run ahead of you in the shopping mall, take the time to talk with your child about your rules and limits when out shopping. Make these limits well known to your child. Create a substitute limit, i.e., tell your child he/she can run ahead of you in the house only. The defining of “limits” is necessary not only for your peace of mind, but also for your child’s development in knowing when and what is acceptable behavior. If you have decided that no ice cream is permissible before dinner, stick to that limit or rule. The truth is – if you allow your child “just-this-one-time-only”, you are really giving permission for this scenario to take place time and time again. Then you become angry and overwhelmed. No need to loose control, just create a limit of each act that pushes you to feel anxious and un-balanced. Remember to create limits that are age appropriate. This is known as “wise-parenting management.”
4. Create Time – Sometimes less is more. Start by doing less each day. Parents are generally creating the overwhelming feelings they experience because of trying to fill their day with too many activities. Children honestly benefit from “down time.” When you are going in too many directions at once, you are creating stress and strain. Everyone feels it. Look at your routine calendar and see what activities can be eliminated or reduced. Sure dance lessons, soccer practice, piano lessons, etc. are important – but not as important as finding nurturing activities that are done at home and done in the name of sanity. To feel less overwhelmed, spend some time in paring-down what activities are welcoming and credible to your family members and what activities are actually causing frustration and stress (like when you hear yourself saying, “hurry up, hurry up.”) Make the cut and you will create a more relaxing and manageable family life.
5. Create Your Own Personal Time – This is a time for you to remind yourself that you do have control of your life and you do need to take care of yourself. There are many examples of healthy personal time which makes your heart happy (and making your heart happy is very, very important for your entire well-being): time spent apart from your child (call the babysitter), time spent in a warm bubbly bath (wait until your child is asleep), time spent on a date with your special other (again call the sitter), time spent doing an activity that makes you feel good (drawing, gardening, knitting, golfing), time spent going out with friends for dinner, time spent exercising, time spent just getting quiet and welcoming the peace. Being good to yourself is the most important thing you can do in life – it benefits you, your child, your mate and your work life. It is amazing that what you do for yourself is a characteristic trait that your child will learn to admire, learn from and respect.
By incorporating at least some of the above-suggested tips daily, you will truly experience a positive change in yourself and in raising your child. Your life will be more in control, more livable, more enjoyable and more relaxing. Keep up the good work you are doing and don’t forget to spend some quality time on yourself.