Being a parent can be labor intensive – dressing, disciplining, diapering, driving – and these are just the D’s. The point is, parenting isn’t a picnic. You love your kids, of course, but sometimes even the best parents feel burned out. So, how do you prevent parent burn out? Nip it in the bud before it happens with these five tips.
1. Stop trying to be perfect.
You’ve heard it before and unfortunately you still have to hear it again. Why? Because most of you are not absorbing the reality that you cannot be perfect. Give yourself some slack if the kids get the occasional bowl of cereal for dinner or if you aren’t that mom who seems to do everything (her life seems pretty exhausting anyway, so who wants that?). Strike a balance and pitch the pipe dream of perfection.
You are the one who knows exactly how pipsqueak likes her hair parted, so only you can comb it every morning. Wrong! Give up the idea that your way of doing something is the only “right” way and it could change your life. Once you empower other people (spouse, sister, friends, older children) to help out with the big plate of tasks that you think you-and-only-you can do, you will feel lighter by a ton.
3. Get organized.
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If you feel like you’re always behind and justthisclose from drowning, then you’re probably in desperate need for better organization and planning in your life and household. Some of you may take umbrage with this assessment. “Yes, I’m behind a lot, but it’s because I have sooo much to do.” And while that certainly is true, almost everyone can benefit from better efficiencies. Really analyze the way you’re living and see if you are one of those people. Read our article on Getting Organized for the School Year for tips to get started.
4. Make time for yourself.
Think about it: Everyone agrees that people can get burned out on their job-job, the one that earns them a paycheck. That’s why we need to have weekends and holidays like Labor Day and some kind of time to just be us, not what we do. So, why then do we often not recognize the need for the same “time off” from parenting? It’s only common sense. No matter how difficult it is, make it a priority to spend time and attention on things unrelated to your role as parent. Learn to make stained glass, see a chick flick with a friend. Doesn’t matter. Just make it about you.
5. Enjoy the ride.
No matter how you slice it, parenting is a job. But, here's the great thing – it’s also a joy. Try to focus on the little things that reveal the lighter, lovelier side of parenting – the silly stuff your kids do and say, the sweet moments that make it all worthwhile. Store them up, maybe even write them down. Record them and recall them. Because this is the payment for all of the unavoidable labor of being a parent.