Family & Parenting Advice for Parents Feeling the Pressure to be a Superhero
Whether you’re a working parent, a stay-at-home-parent, or a combination, you need some time for yourself. Not only does this time alone replenish you and make you less stressed, but it also makes you a better parent.
There’s a lot of pressure to be a super parent, always on the go, but the fact is even superheroes need to rest now and then—and make no mistake, you are a superhero.
Here’s a look at the importance of taking some “me-time” as a parent, what it means for you as an individual, as well as how it affects your relationship with your child.
Parental Burnout Is Real
One of the most important things first-time parents need to know is that you can burn yourself out if you don’t take time for self-care. Parenting is physically and emotionally demanding and can be exhausting, and if you don’t give yourself a break once in a while, both you and your family will feel it.
Parental burnout happens when parents don’t take their much-needed time for themselves to recharge. Common parental burnout symptoms include:
- Increased feelings of detachment from your children—you don’t feel that same bond and connection you had with your kids.
- Feeling like you’re a bad parent, doing a horrible job at parenting, and you don’t know what to do.
Being A Parent Is A Constant Balancing Act
Parents these days juggle plenty of responsibilities and demands. Most parents work full-time, either at home or out of the home, and spend their non-working hours juggling their home life, personal life, schedules, health, chores, errands, extra-curricular activities, and other commitments.
Parents too often put themselves on the back burner and don’t take the time to care for themselves. And when they long for that alone time, they feel guilty.
Many parents already feel guilty about going to work every day, so they think that the time they have after work should always be spent with their kids.
But needing time to recharge one’s body and mind is exactly that—a need.
You can’t parent well if you are burnt out. When you give yourself much-needed and deserved time for yourself to recharge, you’ll feel much better. You’ll also find you don’t feel guilty as often, and your family will be all the better for it.
Here are some coping skills for stressed parents and ways to get rid of that guilt:
Talk to Yourself like You’re Giving Your Best Friend Advice
We are always our own worst critics. It’s easy to get into a negative mindset, especially as you start to feel worn down, but remember: you can always be your greatest ally and advocate.
Instead of being hard on yourself, shift your mindset. Change the voice in your head from a critic to a supporter. Talk about yourself as if you were talking about your best friend. Remind yourself that being a parent is hard work and you can only do so much in a day.
There’s so much pressure to be Supermom or Superdad, and it can lead to some unrealistic expectations. Cut yourself some slack and pat yourself on the back for doing everything you do as best you can.
Alone Time is Normal—And it Doesn’t Mean You Need to Isolate Yourself
We all need time to ourselves. Kids need it, adults need it, teenagers insist it’s all they need… everyone likes a bit of time to themselves now and then, so it’s totally normal to want to take some time to yourself through the day.
Of course, alone time doesn’t mean isolation.
You can enjoy some alone time while your kids play or relax. Simply pick up a book or take some time for your favourite hobby. You can explain to your kids that if they need you, you’re always close by, and can’t wait to do more with them later, but you’re doing something else right now.
Obviously, emergencies come first, but letting your kids play in the backyard, a rec room, or giving them some TV time while you do your thing at home is completely fine and normal. If you need to get out of the house, ask your partner, a family member, friend, or babysitter to watch the kids.
Be mindful of the guilt, acknowledge it, but leave it behind you. Acknowledge it but leave behind—this is about you recharging and refreshing yourself, after all.
The more often and regular your alone time is, the easier it will be for you and your family to accept. Your kids will become accustomed to it, and you will too.
Find Time for Yourself If You’ve Got a Restrictive Schedule
If you can’t escape your house for alone time, consider waking up earlier in the morning or making use of the time before bed. Even just 15 minutes in the morning before the kids wake up is enough time to read, think, stretch, meditate, or do whatever you want to do for yourself.
If you try to make a habit of this every day, you can recharge yourself and be better prepared for the busy day ahead.
Parents Need to Take Care of Themselves To Effectively Take Care Of Their Children
When you’re constantly in parent mode, stressed out trying to juggle everything, your body releases the stress hormone, cortisol. This hormone is harmful to your health and is linked to a number of health conditions, such as heart disease, insomnia, cancer, and digestive issues.
So it’s extremely important for both your physical and mental health to take a break each day, even if just for a few moments, to switch off from being a parent, relax, and reduce your stress levels.
To properly take care of yourself, be sure to:
- Drink enough water
- Eat properly
- Get enough sleep
- Reduce stress with exercise and relaxing activities, like yoga and meditation
If your immune system is down and you’re constantly getting sick or are feeling run down all the time, you won’t have the stamina to keep up with all the challenges that life throws at you. So a healthy mind and body will ensure you can parent and keep up with the daily grind effectively.
Some Options for Alone Time
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, consider the following options to get some much-needed alone time:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Look for ways to take tiny breaks for self-care. Instead of filling every free moment with a task, leave the task for later or hand it off to your partner so you can have a moment to shower, take a bath, read, or sip on tea.
- Hand your kids off to their other parent, or hire a babysitter.
- Let the other parent help out around the house, with school work, and the kids’ extracurricular activities.
- If your kids are old enough, have them help with chores.
- Ask a family member to watch the kids.
- Send your kids to their friend’s house.
- Arrange to swap childcare duties with neighbours—e.g., they watch your kids tonight, and you’ll return the favour next week.
- Set up a movie or another time-consuming activity for the kids so you can do your own thing for a while.
- Go for a walk with a friend—even if your kids come along, this will give you some time to be social with an adult.
- Make parenting fun by listening to your favourite music while cooking dinner and doing other housework.
- When out running errands, stop into a café, art gallery, or museum as part of your outing.
- Shut the door—to your office, bedroom, sunroom, or bathroom—so you can have some alone time, especially when you’re trying to get ready in the morning.
- Send your kids to an Ottawa daycare.
- Send your kids to movie nights at a daycare.
- We said it once, and we’ll say it again: Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
How Your Children Will Benefit from Daycare
While you might feel anxious about sending your kids to daycare, both you and your kids will benefit from this opportunity. With trained, experienced staff, your kids will be well looked after at a professional daycare in Kanata so that you can have more guilt-free time for yourself.
Time for yourself away from your kids allows you to focus on the task at hand (whether it’s mommy/daddy alone time, time out with friends, or just time alone) and value the time you spend with them after you’ve taken time to focus on yourself. This self-care will also rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.