Being a parent is often connected to a lot of stress. Difficult circumstances, self-inflicted high expectations and unrealistic societal standards increase the pressure many parents feel. This article aims at giving parents impulses to develop individual ideas, solutions and strategies to cope with family stress.
1 Planning ahead
Planning the day ahead of time can help set priorities, refocus and foster a clearer or even new distribution of tasks within the family. When planning the day, it is vital to plan the day ahead of time. Think about planning fixed working hours and include the entire family when making plans and setting up boundaries. Stay realistic, plan for unexpected to-dos and open yourself up to finding compromises.
2 Dealing with own demands/expectations
One of the strongest contributing factors to parental family stress is the crushing standards many parents hold themselves accountable to. It is imperative to review one’s own expectations. Ask yourself what is realistically possible for me right now? Observe your child’s and your own needs. Moreover, ask yourself what is really important? What can be neglected and where can corners be cut? You only have a limited amount of energy and you can allow yourself to invest it in things that are important to you and save it in areas that have been imposed on you. When feeling overwhelmed it is worth considering getting support. Invest in and make use of a support system of friends, family, neighbors and parents. In the school context consider talking to teachers and networking with other parents.
Remember, no one is able to do everything perfectly and often it can be helpful to try to get a change in perspective. A simple exercise to try out at home is to answer the following questions: What did I do well today? What am I pleased with?
3 Making space for downtime
Downtime is very well suited for recharging ones mental, physical and emotional batteries. Specifically plan downtime for yourself, as a couple and for the family. Take time for yourself without having a guilty conscience. Practice mindfulness, being fully aware and present to the fact, that there will never be an end to your to-do list and recharging is one of the most important tasks.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you create downtime: Pay attention to your needs and limits. Take physical and mental signs of exhaustion seriously. Questions to consider regarding downtime are: What did I used to like to do? What are signs, which tell you that you feel overwhelmed? What could you do to counteract such situations?
Exercising, getting fresh air, meditating, singing, gardening and talking to friends are just some examples of what shapes downtime can take. Finally, be honest to yourself and do not conceal a task as a form of downtime – you are allowed to take time for yourself!
4 Dealing with difficult emotions
When dealing with challenging emotions, it is important to keep in mind, that change takes time and practice. Breathing exercises, being present to the now, growing awareness for one’s own strengths, talking to people you are close to and actively getting help are good ways to cope with feelings of tension, worry and uncertainty. Try reminding yourself of everything you have already mastered, grow in faith towards yourself and your child and look at how far you have already come.
Irritation, anger and frustration are further familiar emotions. It is essential that these emotions be acknowledged as normal reactions in difficult situations. Moreover, they are more likely to come up if there is little room for them and they are suppressed. Communicating these feelings is imperative to avoiding escalation. Therefore, allow yourself to feel and accept these emotions and, if you need to, exit the situation.
5 Rounding off the day
Bringing the day to a positive close can be very fruitful to your well-being. Cultivating rituals and routines is especially helpful when ending the day with smaller children. In order to round off the day on a positive note, you may want to think about or even write down what you are grateful for or what was nice that day. You can also include the entire family in this activity. Finally, this time of day poses a chance for down time.
6 Consultation can offer relief
Do not hesitate to get professional help if you need it. The Rat auf Draht Elternseite offers an exclusive, simple and flexible service for parents by providing information in the form of online content and psychological online video counseling with experts. We strive to create an environment that is relieving – appreciative – and activates resources. You can make use of the 24-hour appointment booking at www.elternseite.at. Advice is also available in English. Next to the online content available on the Elternseite, there is also the opportunity to exchange ideas in webinars.
BIO: Ines Campuzano is a psychological counselor and content creator at the Rat auf Draht Elternseite. She completed her master’s degree in psychology at the university of Vienna and has found her passion in psychological counseling, as she believes that to find solutions, one does not need to search harder but gain a new perspective. Ines works closely with Katharina Maringer, VFN Treasurer, who proposed this blog article as a valuable resource for all VFN members.
For support and more information: