I want you to think hard about the last time you managed to have some quality time to yourself, doing something that you enjoy and just let you mind and spirit unwind. If you’re able to recall the moment straight away then you’re amongst the minority of parents who are not suffering from the ‘Pressured Parents Phenomenon’. A study done by the Alannah and Madeline Foundation found that 54 per cent of today’s parents want more time with their children but are struggling to balance it with all their other life commitments: job, housework, part-time study, social life (or lack of one).
We all feel pressured to be the perfect do-it-all parent but the truth is, by taking on too much and constantly denying ourselves of time to relax and rest, we are actually causing more harm to our relationships with our kids. We’ll become more easily agitated and too tired to spend time with our kids. So, start incorporating some of the following tips to your weekly routine towards a more stress-free and balanced lifestyle.
Team up with other parents
There are some parenting pain only other parents can relate to - the waking up in the middle of the night nappy changing routine, the daily battle with your kids to eat more greens for dinner, why kids never do as they’re told.... Whatever you’re battling with right now with your kids, rest assure other parents are more than likely fighting the same battle. That’s why a lot of parents gets comfort out of taking their kids to playgroups, as a chance to meet other parents and lend support to one another. My husband and I have become good friends with some of the parents with kids that attend the same swimming school as our daughters. It’s been very refreshing to have other parents to talk to while we wait for the little ones to finish their swimming lessons. We would often take turns to watch over each other’s kids or drop them off after the lesson if one of us gets caught up with work.
- Don’t forget to pamper yourself
As parents, our kids are our bundle of joy and centre of our universe. However, it is important to assign ‘me time’ every week for you to just relax, unwind and recharge. Continue to enjoy the things that makes you happy - whether it’s going for a swim at the beach, going to the movies or painting. I know it’s not always easy to have someone look after the kids at last minute notice but if you’re really feeling run down, why not take your kids along and do something relaxing together. My girlfriends and I enjoy our weekly coffee catch ups. If we can’t find someone to look after our kids, we would take them along to local cafes with kids play areas where we can relax with our cup of coffee and not having to worry about our kids being bored.
- Maintain a well balanced diet & exercise
As parents, we naturally fuss over the well-being of our kids that we would often neglect our own eating habits and health. It is important for parents to keep up our fitness level so that we’ll have the physical endurance necessary to chase our kids around all day - especially when they’ve just learned how to walk and run! Keeping up with a regular exercise routine helps to release endorphins and neurotransmitters that regulate and lift our mood to release some of the effects of parental anxiety and frustration. Even something as simple as taking the family dog out for a walk or run at the park will do the trick! In addition to regular exercise, it is important for parents to maintain a well balanced diet and avoid turning to the comforts of fast food or frozen food for convenience. The next time you go grocery shopping, make sure you stock up on food filled with lots of complex carbohydrates, calcium and good fats: whole-grain breads, starchy and leafy vegetables, soy products, nuts and seeds.....
- Keep your kids busy
One way to give you a temporary break from many of your parenting responsibilities for a few hours is to enroll your kids in after school activities that interests them. The right activity could give your kids the opportunity to develop lasting interest in a fun hobby and make new friends. Look up clubs and associations in your local areas and asks other parents for ideas and suggestions. Perhaps something unusual and unique, like the Astronomy Clubs would be of interest to your kid.
- Accept that no parent is perfect
Lastly but most importantly, it is important to keep up a positive attitude about yourself as a parent. To deal with the ‘Pressured Parents Phenomenon’, it is important to remind yourself daily to just do your best and not be your own worst critics. It’s ok to have spilled milk on the floor, to have a big pile of dirty laundry waiting for you, remember to just take a deep breathe and take it one step at a time. Try to focus on the bigger picture and let go of worrying over the little things that probably won’t matter in the long run. Put this mentality into practice and you’ll find that your stress level will decrease over time and you’ll start to feel the joy of being a parent again.
If you’re still looking for more tips and inspirations on our kids activities directory to keep your little ones busy, head over to our kids activities directory.
Grace Harawira is a thirty-something Mum and all round creative type. She cares for her three young children in their Wellington home, in between blogging for ActiveActivities and working on a novel she has had in the works for years. She hopes she can inspire other Mums to carry on following their dreams, as well as raising kids that get lots of exercise and quality family time.