Parenting is hard work. But when we're critical of ourselves and have a lot of negative self-talk, it can become downright discouraging. Maybe, you're even feeling burned out as a parent. In that parenting exhaustion, have you ever thought to yourself, "I'm really a bad mom!"?
With this full-time, never-let-up job, it's easy to slip into feeling overwhelmed. Many of today's parents live thousands of miles away from grandparents and extended family, which was a major support in earlier times. So how do you parent consciously, keep a work-life balance, and create a fun-loving, happy family, given the multitude of demands?
Estimated reading time: 4 minutesMost parents don't realize that their number one responsibility is self-care; it can even feel selfish when you have children. Every parent knows that there's always one more thing to accomplish: laundry, dinner prep, grocery shopping, help with homework, bath time, and birthday party planning; the list is an infinity circle!
Symptoms of Parental Burnout
As parents, we all know what we look and sound like when we haven't taken care of ourselves. And many families have two parents working full-time so it's so easy to feel burned out. So what are the symptoms of parenting burnout?
- crabby and irritable
- more reactive to our children's behavior
- stressed and preoccupied with just keeping up
- sometimes resentful for being on call 24-7
- feeling shame for wanting alone time
- overwhelmed and exhausted
- often feeling guilty for our parental subpar interactions
- less creative and affectionate
- our patience is thin and we may yell at our kids
Let's face it! We're a whole lot more fun to be around—and parenting is immensely easier—when we're well-rested, well-exercised, and well-fed physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Self-Care IS Our First Responsibility and Priority as a Parent!
Yup, when I tell parents I coach that self-care is crucial, some laugh on the spot. "Where's the time for self-care; I'm lucky if I get a shower in!"
Yet, it's OUR job to stay encouraged and take care of ourselves. And we're also modeling to our kids self-care for their future adulthood! Pretty important, I'm sure you'd agree.
After all, it's not our kids' fault that we cut ourselves so thin. So if you're feeling down about your parenting, don't despair!
Whether you're a new mom, a working mom, or have been in this game for years, it's crucial to be kind to yourself and give yourself the support you need. With more conscious parenting, you can up-level your parenting tool belt and be energized for whatever challenges come your way. And the most effective ways to truly be conscious parents are to raise self-awareness and give yourself compassion while striving to be your best each day.
Below are some parenting skills and tips for cultivating an attitude of positivity and finding that work-life balance. It's critical to stay encouraged as you navigate this most important yet challenging role.
Related reading: "What Is Resiliency and Why Parents Need It!"
7 Parenting EQ and Self-Care Tips to Dramatically Reduce Parenting Burnout
A regular self-care practice is at the heart of every well-balanced family and happy parent. This commitment to well-being means you are taking time for yourself to relax, recharge, and connect with what truly matters to you. Of course, it will look different for everyone, whether you get a massage or just spend time alone each day. The important thing is that you take the time to recharge and nurture your well-being. Overall, self-care is the foundation of conscious parenting.
Practice regular self-care.
Often, I hear parents declare a lack of time as the number one reason for not taking care of themselves. Remember, it doesn't have to be a weekend yoga retreat to replenish yourself. Here are some self-care ideas that take 15 minutes or less to get you started!
Journal to help self-regulate.
Journaling is one of the most powerful tools for self-awareness and studies have shown that this practice destresses and helps process emotions. You can gain clarity and insight into your inner world by regularly writing down your thoughts and feelings. Not only can writing improve your parenting, but it can also serve as a little me time.
One way to incorporate journaling into your daily routine is by writing about your most significant parenting challenges. This focus can be a great way to release stress and illuminate potential solutions.
Some other journaling ideas include writing about what you're grateful for, brainstorming your dreams and goals, and reflecting on how you want to feel each day. Bringing to mind qualities that you love about each child also bolsters the natural feel-good drugs in your system.
Visualize the parenting outcome you desire.
Another fabulous activity is visualization. This practice can catapult you out of discouraged or hum-drum feelings and significantly boost your ability to create the happy family life you envision. By getting clear on what you'd like instead of focusing on the stress and your children's misbehavior, you'll feel better and set in motion the awareness to create it.
So if you're looking for easy ways to start self-care, try journaling and visualizing.
Exercise your body to release parenting stress.
Another quick way to recharge is by exercising. There are plenty of virtual exercise programs that you can do in the living room, even while your children are home. Even if you only set a timer for 15 minutes and do yoga or a round of sit-ups and jumping jacks, you'll feel better. And exercising while your children are present is healthy modeling. Or sometimes, taking a slow and gentle walk around the block can act as a reset. Then when you have more time, go for a longer run or hike.
Related reading: "Why Exercising as a Family Makes Good Sense."
Pamper yourself to melt parenting burnout.
Along with exercising, pampering yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically is another excellent way to treat yourself. As parents, it's easy to feel like we don't have time for a luxurious self-care ritual. Don't fall for the "I don't have enough time!" justification—even 15 minutes can make all the difference!
This self-care ritual can be as simple as taking a hot bubble bath in candlelight or reading a book in a cozy, quiet spot. When I was a working mother, these breaks were imperative to recharge myself. And while you're giving yourself some love, you can also bring to mind all the things you love about your children, which renews a sense of joy and washes away the angst of parenting struggles.
Or when you have more time to invest in yourself, splurge on an at-home spa kit with facials, manicures, and pedicures Again, we tend to reserve pampering ourselves in ways that take much longer. However, if you work these little practices into everyday life, you'll build momentum in self-care. As the saying goes: you can't give from an empty cup.
Practice mindfulness in your daily life.
A mindfulness practice is a splendid way to show children how to self-calm and keep their cool. When you're on the verge of losing your temper, tell your child, "I need some quiet time for myself." Then, sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes and start deep breathing. Focus your mind on your inhale and exhale. With every exhale, release frustration, stress, and anxiousness. Breathe in joy, peace, and love.
This simple exercise can completely renew you in less than 3-4 minutes. You can even do this with a toddler while they play independently. Sound too good to be true? ... then have them sit quietly on your lap. Regardless, modeling self-soothing techniques is an incredible way to bring more calmness to the family scene.
Set healthy boundaries.
Additionally, it's important to set healthy boundaries for yourself and not overcommit. This limit could mean saying no to a request from a friend for help, in-laws wanting to stop by unannounced, or setting limits with bringing work home. If you're a Mompreneur, one of the most vital things you can do is structure your time and prevent work emails, phone calls, and obligations from bleeding into family life too often or too much. And if you do need to work after the kids go to bed, designate one room in your home with a door for quiet and privacy.
And sometimes, you'll need to set boundaries for your kids, too. For example, perhaps you have your teen take their younger sibling to baseball practice so you can catch a yoga class. Or maybe you say no when your daughter wants a sleepover at your house because you're stretched too thin.
Putting yourself FIRST occasionally is good for them. Your children get an opportunity to delay gratification, self-calm, deal with disappointment, contribute, or appreciate all you do for them!
Dive Deeper: "Parenting Tips for Saying No and Setting Boundaries."
Reserve time for friendship.
And finally, remember to take time with your friends. You can even combine friendship with a self-care recharge at the spa!
But whether it's a quick coffee break, a spa day, or an evening out with other parents, make socializing a priority. It will help you feel more connected, energized, supported, and inspired as a parent. And if your spouse isn't available or you can't find a babysitter to go out, have friends over for a potluck!
With tools like journaling, setting boundaries, and developing a self-care routine, you can care for yourself and be the best parent possible.
Whether you're looking for quick ways to recharge or long-term practices that cultivate self-care, these simple tips can help you rise above the "mom guilt" and rekindle the joy of parenting.
So, the next time you start thinking you're a bad mom or you can't handle being a mom, stop yourself, say three encouraging things to yourself, and make an appointment with yourself for self-care!
Related reading: "Am I a Bad Mom? Transforming Parenting Burnout to Fun, Positive Parenting."
And if you’d like parenting support or personalized parenting advice, contact us at Heartmanity. A parent coach is eager to help you learn parenting skills for greater ease and fun.