Whether we're working parents, parents who homeschool, parents of children with special needs, or parents who are at every single ballgame or dance recital, we all get stressed out from time to time. And unfortunately, we don’t always respond to stress in the healthiest ways. That can make us even more stressed out while we deal with the feelings of failure and guilt. But there’s always tomorrow and there’s always a better way. Here are some classic bad habits of stressed out parents and how to replace those habits with healthy alternatives.
Stress makes me yell. It’s something I’m not at all proud of, but it happens. The kids ignore me, the house is a mess, and something happens that makes me lose my cool. It’s no fun for anyone.
Exercise. When I haven’t worked out in a while, I yell way more. Getting in a workout releases stress and anxiety. It makes me happier, which makes those scattered toys and dirty dishes a lot less of a big deal. Plus, I have more energy to keep up with the messes and get us all ready and out the door on time.
2. Fighting with Your Spouse
No matter what it is that stresses us out, it’s super easy to take it out on our spouses. They’re right there in front of us, and they’ve been dealing with us for so long that we aren’t embarrassed to let it all out – and maybe even blame them for the overstuffed garbage bag or sink full of dishes. But with so many marriages ending in divorce, it’s not really a great way to let out our stress. After all, you’re a team, right?
Ask your spouse how you can help them. Taking that extra step to make his or her day easier will not only make your spouse happy, but will inspire them to do the same for you. You’ll both feel better and relieved of stress with those little reminders that you have each other’s backs.
Where to even start? If you’re a smoker, you already know about the dangers, but that doesn’t make it easy to quit. My husband is an ex-smoker and in times of stress, over 10 years later, he still turns to Nicorette gum. It’s a habit and an addiction that is so easy to fall back into, but it won’t make your stress go away.
First of all, work on quitting. Whether it’s using a quit-smoking aid or going cold turkey, you’ve just got to try. And after you do, don’t be afraid to keep some Nicorette gum or cinnamon gum on hand so that when you get stressed, you don’t go buy the pack of cigarettes. Or instead of gum, try grabbing a snack – carrots or a sliced apple – anything healthy that will keep your hands and mouth busy. Another alternative? Exercise. Once your lungs start to feel better, you won’t want to fill them with all those chemicals ever again.
A drink every once in a while is totally fine for most of us, but there's been a rise in the amount of drunk driving incidences involving parents with children in the car. If you’re stressed and you’re using alcohol to relieve that stress - and you can’t stop yourself - you need to seek help. If you aren’t addicted, but want to make a change, there are other options.
Drink something healthy that will help you reduce stress. From oat straw to herbal tea, and even warm milk, there are options out there that are alcohol free and will still relax you.
We all want to throw in the towel sometimes, but when it comes to our families, that’s the worst thing we can do. We never want to quit – whether it’s on discipline, on our child’s education, or on cleaning the house. It shows our kids that quitting is an option and it also makes us all a bit sad.
Meditation and deep breathing can help you center and calm yourself. When you want to quit, take a step back and remember why it is you do what you do. Tell yourself something calming such as: This too shall pass, or This is just what I do. And get back into the game of parenting and living life. If you quit disciplining your strong-willed children, things will get more stressful and your children will grow up with little self-confidence and self-control. Quitting is something you will regret.
This is not meant to replace medical advice. Talk to your doctor about healthy ways to deal with stress, quit smoking, and recover from alcohol addiction.