Whichever way you shake it, we live in a “go-go-go” society. Oftentimes we glorify how busy and productive we are, and feel guilty if we spend too much time relaxing. Raising kids is difficult enough on its own, let alone balancing a job, marriage, and some semblance of a social life.
But stress can literally take years off of your life — so it’s important to reevaluate if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and take those extra steps to maintain a sense of calm in your life. You deserve it, and your kids will benefit from your healthier state of mind. Here are a few top tips for reducing some of the chaos in your life.
1. Trim Your Obligations
We pile a lot of responsibility onto ourselves because we think that we can and should be able to handle it. “I can be the superhero and do it all.” The truth is, even if you can do it all, you don’t have to. (And you shouldn’t.)
Take a look at your schedule. Maybe you signed up for one too many volunteer opportunities. Or maybe you’ve committed to a lunch date that you just don’t have the energy for. More than likely there are one or two things that you can nix from your calendar, and the world will continue to spin.
Think to yourself, “Do I really need to commit to this?” If the answer is no, cancel!
2. Prioritize Your Own Sleep
I know, I know…easier said than done. Of course with a newborn you simply take what you can get and push through the exhaustion. But as the kids get older and start sleeping through the night, establishing healthy sleep habits for yourself is critical.
Once the hectic day comes to a close and you finally have a little “you time,” it might be tempting to watch a couple episodes of a show on Netflix or stay up late with a few glasses of wine. Try to limit that late night time and prioritize your sleep. Maybe instead of watching an hour of Netflix, stick to reading a book or listening to an audio book for 15-30 minutes before bed.
Improve your quality of sleep by reducing light and sound distractions throughout the night. It’s also helpful to set a time to “unplug.” After 8:00 pm no more laptop or scrolling on your phone. This will help your mind slow down and get ready for a more restful night’s sleep.
3. Eliminate the Pressure of Perfection
Repeat after me:
It’s okay if my house is a little messy.
Store-bought cupcakes for the school party will do just fine.
If I miss one soccer game because of a client dinner, I am still a good parent.
The pressure of perfection can cause so much added stress for parents that is detrimental to their overall health. Remind yourself as often as you can that all parents have struggles and nobody is perfect. “Comparison is the thief of joy,” so be wary of spending too much time on social media. (Remember, people only share their best moments!)
We also live in a time of information overload. Everywhere you turn there’s an article warning you about the evils of sugar or gluten, or cautionary tales of bad parenting techniques. Of course it’s important to learn and grow as a parent, just remember that your best is enough. Lead with love and the rest will follow.
4. Build Your “Village” and Ask for Help
We know the old adage “it takes a village,” yet many of us are so hesitant to ask for help or spend any time away from our little ones. If you are fortunate enough to have family nearby, don’t be afraid to strengthen those ties and rely on your loved ones for a little relief.
The quality time you have with your kids will be infinitely more valuable if you’re less stressed and you’ve prioritized your well being.
Remember that other parents are often in a similar boat. Play-dates are great because you can alternate with other parents in your social network. Maybe once a month you have all 4 kids at your house, but that means 3 times a month, you get an afternoon of “you time” while one of the other parents hosts the kids.
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