There are always going to be times where parenting is just totally overwhelming and we just want to run for the hills and hide! Even with 20 years experience and 5 kids, i can say with certainty i feel parental overwhelm most days. Usually, when we are short on time or more than one child needs me to be there immediately. Some days i get into bed and cry. So what do you do when things get overwhelming? How to you cope with those feelings and try to avoid them happening again? I have 17 ways to combat parenting overwhelm, which can also be used in other aspects of your life too!
1. Take a deep breath
Overwhelm really stems from fear, fear of failing, fear of not being there, fear of being out of control. Fear is great for keeping you safe, the problems come when you allow fear to have a larger hold over your thoughts than is truly necessary. Taking a deep breath helps you to relax. It starts the body on the journey from the fight or flight reaction you are in and focusses your mind on the task at hand.
2. Tell yourself there is no emergency
The chances are there is no real actual emergency when you are feeling overwhelmed. So reaffirming this in your own mind or out loud, helps to set you back on the right path to calmness. Taking a few seconds out just to gather your thoughts will go a long way to ease that feeling of being overwhelmed.
3. Accept the feelings
By accepting that you are feeling overwhelmed you reclaim the power it has over you. Yes, you feel overwhelmed, yes it feels uncomfortable but no, it won’t last and no, it has no power over me. This is facing the fear head on and empowering yourself once again.
4. Survey whats most important
Once you have gathered yourself, you should be able to see more clearly what needs to be dealt with first. If someone is hurt you deal with this, then the person that is hungry, then the homework. Having a plan of action helps you to feel back in control and reduces those feeling of parental overwhelm.
5. Tell your kids
Once you are or even when you are not, tell your kids you are feeling overwhelmed. You will be surprised at how much this will empower them. Children are really in tune and want to help, they have an amazing way of problem-solving and by asking for their help, they will more than likely find a way to lighten your load. This is also showing your child that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed and this is a good way to deal with it. A skill they will thank you for later.
6. Ask for help
If you have family, friends or a partner at home. ASK.FOR.HELP. There is no reason to suffer silently, a problem shared is a problem halved. So let someone lend a hand.
7. You time
Overwhelm often happens when our own cup is empty. So taking time for yourself is a great way to recharge and fill that cup. Sometimes as a parent we can think that doing things for yourself is selfish, but it’s NOT. If you don’t look after your car it will break down. You are no different to a car. You need TLC too.
8. Have a soak in the bath.
Sometimes no matter how hard we try to address overwhelm, it still gets hold of us. So having a nice long soak can help lower those stress levels and bring you back to normal.
9. Do some exercise
Exercising release feel-good hormones called endorphins and then can help you to be able to deal more effectively with stress, so try to do something that gets your heart pumping.
10. Reconnect with your kids
Feeling overwhelmed can severely reduce are want to be with our kids, which in turn creates more overwhelm as they go into ‘i want mummy’ mode more. Reconnecting with them, even if its just a cuddle and you hold onto them til they let you go, will help everyone feel better. Try to spend time each day reconnecting with your child, by keeping their cup filled, it will help keep at bay those out of control feelings on all sides.
11. Be Thankful
Giving thanks for what you have is a great way of beating down overwhelm. Even when things are so bad you don’t think there are any positives to be had. There always will be. Find them. You will feel better.
12. Say no.
No can be one of the most empowering words when you are overwhelmed. If you have too much going on and a friend asks you to help them. Do not feel guilty for saying “no, sorry i can’t”. Your toddler wants to take 10 dolls to school but can only take one. Say no, yes they may have a tantrum, yes it may make you late. However, it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes the only word for the situation is NO.
13. Walk Away
Sometimes no matter how many breaths you take that feeling ain’t going anywhere. So, make sure the kids are safe, then walk away. Go to the toilet and lock the door. Go to your room and scream into a pillow. Just take a few minutes away from everything to calm down.
14. Listen to some music
Music is very therapeutic. When i am angry i listen to Alanis Morissette and have a good sing along. I always fel better singing my anger/frustrations out. Some days it’s sad music and i cry which helps no end.
15. Have a cry
Crying can feel awkward, as many of us were told ‘not to cry’ as a child. It’s OK to cry. I always feel so much better after a good old cry, almost like my emotions washed out with the tears.
16. Laugh or smile
Sometimes you can’t beat a good belly laugh, it cuts tension and makes you feel happy again. Watch a comedy on TV, tell a joke. Whatever helps you to make you chuckle. A good meme always gets me laughing. If you don’t want to laugh get a pen or pencil and bite it lightly between your teeth. There is a proven link to happy hormones rising with this action alone as it tricks the body into thinking you are smiling. Sounds silly but try it, what do you have to lose?
17. Plan of action
Most reasons for feeling overwhelmed are resolvable with planning. So sit down and find a way to avoid it happening again. Strategies are sure-fire ways to minimise overwhelm and empower you to cope better with stressful situations!
Do you have sure-fire ways of beating that feeling of parental overwhelm? Let us know in the comments below!
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