- De-stressing as a parent can save you time.
- Modeling coping strategies for your children can teach them to de-stress.
- De-stressing is imperative for secure attachment to take seed.
In and of itself, that would be fine: stress is a necessary part of life. The problem is that you need to counterbalance it with de-stressing, but as a parent you’re always busy, and always feeling compelled to put your own needs last.
It's important to manage stress as a parent – and you can do that without neglecting your children or any of your other responsibilities. In fact, since stress makes you less productive, de-stressing effectively gives you more time. Here are five ways for parents to de-stress.
Protect Your Friend Time
Many people spend less time with their friends when they get into a relationship, or get married– but after having kids, this becomes almost inevitable.
While you do need to put your family first, social activity is a basic human need– and for most people, that need includes social activity with peers, not just family.
Try to spend a couple of hours with your friends every week–and if possible, make that a regular thing, such as a weekly dinner.
If you find it difficult to make time for friends, look for ways to kill two birds with one stone– such as having play dates with your children and your friend’s children, during which time you and the other adults can socialize while keeping an eye on the children.
It seems cliched, but regular meditation really does reduce stress. It doesn’t require special training either– free apps such as Calm, or an article or YouTube video, can teach you everything you need to know to get started meditating.
A regular meditation practice can take as little as five minutes a day. In fact, five or ten minutes a day just sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing is a good starting point–consistency outweighs length, so it’s more important to meditate every day than to meditate for a long time.
Build Your Savings
Financial insecurity is one of the leading causes of worry for people in general–and more so for parents. You can greatly reduce your stress load merely by saving up a bit of money in order to feel more financially secure.
The easiest and most effective way to save is not to pinch pennies, or even to budget– it’s to make saving automatic. Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account every two or four weeks (however often you get paid ideally you’d schedule this on or right after payday) for however much you think you can afford. Even a hundred dollars every two weeks is a good start and will result in an emergency fund of $2600 after one year.
Note that if you and your spouse both have jobs, you may want to set up separate transfers for each of you–particularly if you get paid into different checking accounts, or on different schedules.
You may also wish to set up another set of automatic transfers, from savings into your retirement accounts, or your children’s college fund.
Exercise, but Short and Sweet
Regular exercise is highly effective at reducing stress. Of course, exercise takes time, which you may not have much of. How to get a good deal of quality exercise?
Simply put: make it short but intense. Sprint instead of jogging. Perform short, full-body weightlifting sessions with very short rests between sets–at home if you want to save yourself a drive to the gym. Move fast enough to fatigue yourself in twenty or thirty minutes.
This does mean you’ll need to have the willpower to push yourself hard–but not for very long.
Note that exercise not only reduces stress in the long term, it has has an immediate effect on stress. When you feel anxious, one effective quick fix is to take a short break from whatever you’re doing and exercise until you feel just a little bit fatigued.
Get Support From Other Parents
Nobody is an island. Even the strongest person needs help sometimes. As a parent, you’ll sometimes need both practical advice and emotional support.
While you can get a lot of that from your spouse, sometimes they’re too close to the problem–or the problem is a disagreement with them. Quite often you just need an outside viewpoint.
That’s where other parents come in. It’s important to have other parents you can turn to for advice, encouragement and emotional support. Often these other parents are the same friends you hang out with–but they may also be friends in other cities who you occasionally talk to on the phone.
It’s also possible that you don’t have many parent friends. Maybe you can make some, but your support network doesn’t always have to consist of “friends.” You can also look for help from other parents in the PTA at your child’s school, or even from parenting groups on Facebook or reddit.
The bottom line here is, ask for help when you need it, even if that means going outside of your usual circles. Sometimes the best advice and support comes from people you don’t know very well–and sometimes these people do end up becoming friends.