5 Tips for Managing Parenting Stress
For as far back as we can remember as kids, most of us are (painfully) aware of how much stress we caused our parents. From temper tantrums, talking back and getting into things we’re not supposed to, the list is neverending. So now as new parents, on the surface we understand some of the challenges we’ll face with our children as they grow up, but oftentimes, new parents are blindsided with the challenges that infants and toddlers can impose. Children are tough work and it’s easy to get overwhelmed, sad, angry or feel defeated. No matter how prepared you thought you were, reading endless books and blogs, attending classes and speaking with family members, negative emotions and stress will undeniably emerge from time to time (or even consistently) as you care for your young child.
So, what can you do about this? Extreme stress for new parents is not sustainable! Luckily, there are many ways to manage these overwhelming feelings and strains.
Here are 5 ways you can manage your stress as a new parent.
Make it a priority to take time for yourself
You probably hear this from everyone you know and think, “Yeah, okay. Like I have time for that?!” We get it. It’s challenging to see there’s more to your life than just your children, but it’s SO important to take “me time” for yourself. Believe it or not, the more time you allot to your physical and mental wellbeing, the better parent you’ll be.
So, what do you want to do in your “me time”? Some parents think this means getting a massage, going shopping, or getting their nails done, (which all sound great!) but let’s not fit “me time” into a box. If running kid-free errands makes you happy, do it! Simple errands we’ve taken for granted become luxuries when children are involved, and sometimes it feels great to not have to worry about the carseat, carriage, crying and screaming that tends to accompany a simple trip to the store.
- Enjoy a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop
- Sit at the park and observe nature around you
- Workout at the gym
- Call a friend while walking around the neighborhood
- Go to the movie theater
Some of these activities take no more than 30 minutes. You owe this time to yourself!
Spend time with your partner
Relationships are tough. Your life is literally intertwined with someone who may have different preferences, feelings, hobbies, annoyances and goals than you. Add a baby to the mix and the time you once spent committing to building your relationship is now spread thinner. Feeling stressed about this? Contrary to what you might think, having children does not increase your chances of divorce. In fact, according to a Smart Marriages study, only 40% of couples who divorce have children while 66% of divorced couples do not have children.
Nonetheless, having children can definitely put a strain on your relationship so it’s important to create the opportunity to spend quality time with your partner.
Hire a babysitter for the evening or have a friend or family member watch the kids. Finding coverage is easier than you think!
Here’s a few ideas to choose from:
- Go out to dinner (fancy or casual!)
- Make dinner together (if you enjoy cooking)
- Go for a walk or bike ride
- Play a boardgame
- Take a workout class together
- Have a picnic
- Go to an arcade, carnival or amusement park
- Drive to a vineyard for wine tasting
Running out of fun ideas? Search on Google. The internet never lacks new creative ideas!
Stay as organized as possible
This one goes without say, but the more you’re organized, the less time you’ll waste and the less frazzled you’ll be. A great way to cut back on time and stress is to plan out your meals. Plan for the next few days or if possible, the rest of the week. Don't get stressed if your meal plans change, but at least you know you won’t be scrambling to put food on the table.
Coronavirus has drastically impacted most elements of society, but one silver lining is the increase of curbside delivery and pickup options. Rather than having to go to the store every few days, you can preorder your menu days ahead and have it delivered to your house or waiting for you at the store. Check with your local grocery stores on if there’s a minimum you have to spend in order to get free pickup or delivery. Most of the time you have to spend around $35 for free pickup or delivery.
If all else fails? Have the pizza delivery guy on speed dial. Seriously! It’s cheap, delicious and quick with no cleanup. Allow yourself the luxury of takeout food when you’re feeling stressed.
Connect with other parents just like you
If you don’t have friends who have children the same age as you, parenting can feel extremely isolating and lonely. There’s no need for you to feel this way. Now with the internet, there is ample opportunity to connect with others just like you. Here are some support communities we recommend.
- The Peanut app - It’s like a free Tinder for Moms!
- Mops.org - A religion-based (but accepting of everyone) website that does cost money, but is top-rated.
- Mothers with Toddlers Facebook Group - A forum for mommies to share all the glory, challenges, joy and pain that comes from toddlers.
- Support Group for Mothers Facebook Group - A support network for mothers worldwide
We found these four communities within 10 minutes of searching the web. Continue to look on Facebook and via search engines to find additional communities perfect for you.
There’s thousands of others going through exactly the same challenges as you. No need to go through them alone!
Simplify as much as possible
Every day, there’s so much to do and so little time. One workaround to getting as much done as possible with as little stress as possible is simplifying your day-to-day. Here are some tips on how to do just that!
- Automate Bills - The less manual work, the better! Go through your list of bills and determine which can be automatically paid from your banking account. It’ll take a little time to opt-in to automatic payments, but this effort will very quickly pay itself off in the near future.
- Meal Plan - Discussed above. Prep, prep, prep!
- Toy Bins - You don’t need any elaborate sorting system, just a common area to store all toys in. Does your child need entertainment? The bins are your go to...no need to be searching through every room, closet or cabinet.
- Simple Clothes - When buying childrens’ clothes, it’s tempting to go for the cutest pieces. Think twice about this! The more simple the clothes, the easier it is to mix and match on busy mornings.
- Potty Training - Is your child ready for potty training? Move on from diapers and pull-ups and enjoy the stress-saving benefits of Peejamas, the overnight training pants for kids! Peejamas are an environmentally friendlier, more affordable, and more stylish alternative. Learn more about them HERE.
Parenthood is tough, but with these 5 tips for managing parenting stress, you can become more relaxed and feel better every day: Make it a priority to take time for yourself, spend time with your partner, stay organized, connect with other parents and simplify as much as possible.