One thing is for certain: nothing prepares you for parenting. You could do all your homework, but it hits you harder than expected, leaving you zapped at the end of the day.
This is especially because parenting is the only “job” in the world where you work 24x7, 365 days a year, without any breaks or leaves. Somewhere between all the hustling and chores, you are bound to feel stressed and depleted. There are days I want to take off my supermom cape. I want to give myself more credit than I do, and want to allow myself to feel overwhelmed.
A recent study by The New York Times showed that 51% of fathers, 69% of moms felt they experienced adverse health effects due to worry and stress during the pandemic. And I don’t think much has changed in the past year, post-Covid too.
As moms, we take care of ourselves when we are carrying the baby. But soon after delivery, we let ourselves slide in the list of our priorities — this inevitably causes burnout and a sense of overwhelm. From taking stock of diapers and school assignments, to knowing where a particular textbook is hidden away, to planning the groceries for the next day — there is a constant train of thoughts running in a parent’s mind. At some point though, it needs to slow down, or else it runs the risk of getting derailed.
How can parents today juggle between their work, chores and deadlines, find a moment’s peace in their daily routine and something to help them de-stress? As a mom, and an entrepreneur, I realised, I can give my 100% to my family and business only when I am functioning at my 100%. And for that, self-care is crucial. I don’t have to feel guilty or apologetic about it.
Here are 6 simple ways I use to handle my daily stress as a parent. Not all points would apply to every parent, because no two parents have the same experience. Use this as a guide, feel free to tweak things, and make these work for you.
Give yourself the freedom to be in control of your time
Over the years, I realised I needed the peace and quiet of the morning to reclaim my mornings so I have clarity over my day. Be it planning my day ahead, batching my tasks, or revelling in the silence of the morning, this helps me keep calm as a parent. Even 5 minutes of meditation a day can help you find your balance and calm on a tough day.
A well-nourished parent is a happy parent
Yes, we all have made this mistake at some point in our parenting journey: eating our children’s leftovers as breakfast and rushing to work, and then feeling tired within hours. Remember, a well-nourished body is a well-nourished mind. Eat before, or along with your kids, get adequate sleep and treat your mind and body with respect. You owe yourself this much.
Engage in movement of some form through the day
For most, a morning walk, or a jog helps set the tone for the day. For some, a leisurely walk at the end of the day helps end the day with some peace and quiet. Invest in quality time to work out and release some endorphins that help you de-stress. Do whatever works for you.
Play to your strengths to save blocks of time through the day
We drift and lose time when we do things that are new and confusing to us, or things that we don’t have much experience with. It’s important to discuss with your spouse, identify each of your strengths and play to those, on a daily basis. If one of you can help with academics, while the other one is good at sports, plan your roles accordingly. Any amount of time you save in the day (however little it is) will help you spend it on yourself. These crucial minutes matter!
It’s okay to ask for help
The saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, is popular for a reason — it’s true. As parents, we are wired to be possessive of our kids, and we think twice before reaching out for help with them. We are afraid of the opinions, judgements and what people would think of us as parents, when others get involved. But, the one thing I’ve learned over the years is to turn a deaf ear to naysayers and people who are judgmental. I have been lucky to have the support of my family in raising my children and in starting my dream business — I couldn’t have done it without their support, but I am glad I involved them. It also helped me let go a little.
Learn to say ‘no’
Remember it is okay to say no to certain things, than saying ‘yes’ to everything and feeling fatigued at the end of the day. I started to say no to extra responsibilities, and I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. If I somehow find time on my hands, I use it to relax and reconnect with myself — otherwise I'm absolutely no fun to be around, not even to myself.
At the end of the day, remember that happy parents raise happy kids.
Mansi Zaveri is the founder & CEO of Kidsstoppress.com