Parenthood is filled with countless moments of exhilarating joy and boundless pride. But if you are a parent, you can attest to the fact that there are also moments, days, weeks, and months when parenthood is just plain tough. Although some of the best times in your life will focus on your role as a parent, there will be plenty of stressful times, too. Once you realize that life will not always go as planned, you can begin to reduce some of the stress that comes with being a mom or a dad.
Of course, the ages of your children will play a role in the amount or kind of stress you may experience. Newborns, though small and innocent, are also very demanding. At what other time in a person’s life is she so totally dependent on someone else for all of her needs? If you are a new parent, you will probably be doubly stressed because you feel so inexperienced.
The first thing you need to remember is that you are not alone. Newborns don’t exactly come with instructions, and you will find your way eventually. In the meantime, however, do not be afraid to ask for help from friends and family members.
Returning home from the hospital after having a baby can be a joyful, yet stressful, time for both mom and dad. Your baby will wake often, and you will have to respond to her demands immediately, no matter how exhausted you are. Keep in mind that as she grows, she will start to sleep for longer periods of time. She will learn to do more things for herself, and she will grow faster than you can believe!
To preserve your sanity, accept friends’ and relatives’ offers of help. If they don’t know exactly how to help you, give them a few choices. Can they cook a few meals? Will they sit with the baby for a couple of hours while you enjoy a much needed nap? Can they wash a few loads of clothes or run the vacuum cleaner for you? They want to help, so let them!
As your baby continues to grow, you’ll be hit with many new stressful situations. If you are going to return to work, you may be worried about leaving your child. Try to remember that you aren’t the only parent who had to leave a child every day, and your child will be fine. When you get home, spend a few minutes of quality time simply bonding with your child.
Toddlers are bundles of activity. As they become more mobile, their curiosity intensifies. This means you must keep an ever watchful eye on them practically twenty-four hours a day. As much as you may enjoy watching your child discover and learn new things, you may also long for a little down time. It is important that you are able to maintain a sense of yourself. Don’t forget to do some things that you enjoy.
While your life may be consumed with your little one, you should try to hang on to some of your other hobbies and interests. Take some time at the end of the day to read or just enjoy a long, bubble bath. Go on a walk by yourself or with your spouse or a friend, but leave your child with someone else. You and your spouse still need time alone, so try to carve out a little space for just the two of you.
As your child continues to grow, he will probably become more involved in extracurricular activities. Until he is old enough to drive himself around, you will take on the new role of his personal chauffeur. While it is great for children to experience new activities and meet new people, they do not need to have every moment filled with lessons, classes, and other activities.
Don’t forget your own needs as you try to fulfill your child’s needs. If you’ve basically ignored one of your own hobbies, embrace it again wholeheartedly. Spend some time with friends. Learn to say No! occasionally.
If you really must take your child to several lessons, practices, or classes, then find something that you can enjoy while he is busy. You can bring along a favorite book or catch up on all of those magazines you’ve wanted to read. If you have the time, go to a park and take a walk. Go shopping just for fun. In other words, do some things for you.
As your child becomes a teenager, you will probably run into a whole new set of stressful situations and circumstances. Your teen will be pulling away from you, which is only natural. You may recall, wistfully, how you were once your child’s everything. You will worry about a host of new problems including the temptations of drugs and alcohol and your child’s first experiences as a new driver.
Keep in mind that there is only so much you can control. Again, do not have expectations that are impossible to live up to for yourself and/or your child. There will be times that you just have to let go and hope your child will remember the lessons and values that you have tried to instill in her.
Although your life will still center around your child in many ways, she will want to exert more of her independence, and you will need to allow her to do that, at least to an extent. It will be easier and less stressful for you if you spend some time cultivating your own interests.
Finally, remember that life is not always easy, and being a parent can be extremely difficult at times. If you feel that the stress is too overwhelming, talk to someone. You can talk to your spouse, a relative, or a friend. Parents who have already gone through some of the same trials you are experiencing can be excellent listeners.
If your stress becomes too much to handle, contact a counselor who deals with families. You can’t expect to have a completely stress-free life as a parent, but you can learn to manage your stress levels.If your stress