The words parenting and overwhelm combine naturally, don’t they? It’s difficult to thrive and find balance when you’re raising children and managing your other responsibilities.
Throughout the stages of raising children, you’ll have emotions ranging from exhilarating joy to total exhaustion (often from one moment to the next!). And, the most overwhelming thing about parenting? You desperately want to do a good job. Your role is crucial in your child’s life, and yet it’s so challenging!
Added to the challenge is the fact that your role as a parent never stops. It’s pretty difficult to take a day off from raising kids, especially without feeling guilty about it. And even if you do get a day off, you’re still Mom or Dad, no matter what.
During some stages of raising children, you’ll probably feel like things are going well. Your kids are generally pleasant and fun, you’re in a good routine as a family, and parenting doesn’t feel impossible.
But, when you’re in one of those draining, desperate seasons, it can feel unending and isolating. Parents today are more isolated than parents in the past, so in addition to feeling overwhelmed, you may feel lonely and lack support. Once you account for any other life stressors you’re experiencing, you might wonder sometimes if you should just resign yourself to being exhausted and living in survival mode.
Tips to Reduce Parenting Overwhelm While Raising Children
In this article, we’ll discuss how to identify the source of your parenting overwhelm while raising children, and we’ll share practical parenting advice that might help to lessen your stress. Pick and choose what is helpful for you and what applies to your situation.
If you are feeling depressed or struggling with your mental health, please reach out to one of our Christian counselors today for parenting counseling. You are not alone, and support can make a huge difference as you face this challenging but rewarding season of life.
1. Identify the source of your overwhelm
Generally, when you’re feeling stressed to the max with your role as Mom or Dad, there are specific issues that are most closely linked to your stress.
- Do you have a child who has a particularly difficult personality or is going through a challenging stage?
- Do you have multiple young children close in age?
- Have you been going through transitions as an individual or a family that add extra layers of difficulty?
- Is there trauma or grief involved? Have you gone through a divorce or been widowed, or are you a single parent? Is your child chronically ill, or does she have a learning or developmental disability that is difficult to manage?
Any of these stressors can not only be the source of your emotional struggles but if you are going through a more unique situation, it can also make you feel isolated from other parents who don’t understand what you’re going through.
Try making a list of your top 3-5 stressors as a parent. Just seeing them written down can help you process what’s driving the feelings you’re experiencing.
2. Explore possible solutions
If there were easy solutions to the problems you’ve identified, you probably would’ve already thought of them, right? But, there’s always a chance that one particular thing is contributing to parental stress could actually be remedied. If you set aside a little time to tackle it, it could take a huge load off your shoulders.
Sometimes we’re so busy and distracted by the daily routine that we fail to solve small problems with parenting tips that can make a big difference in our happiness. For example, if you’re having trouble keeping your house clean, take a day or a weekend and declutter as much as possible. Or, declare a family reset day and put everyone to work cleaning.
If grocery shopping with little kids is overwhelming, take advantage of grocery delivery or a free grocery pickup service. Try to identify the hot spots in the day when things seem to spiral into chaos, and consider whether you can implement a small system to manage that time better.
If after school time is always chaotic and stressful, consider playing calming instrumental music for the first 30 minutes after everyone gets home, not having any screens, and not trying to get anything done until the 30 minutes has passed.
If you are experiencing serious struggles such as having a child with an illness or disability, going through a divorce, being chronically ill yourself, or any other significant issues, do not feel bad for needing help and support. You are not meant to walk this difficult road alone. Simplify the rest of your life as much as possible so you can manage this difficult aspect of your parenting journey.
3. Reframe your parenting approach
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by parenting but bored at the same time, it’s likely that you find the day-to-day tasks of raising small children monotonous and draining. This is especially the case if you are a stay-at-home parent, but you may also be exhausted after work and struggling to connect with your child amidst everything that needs to get done.
Sometimes, reframing your cognitive approach can help. Reading a few articles about your child’s current stage of development can help you see him through new eyes, recognizing how special each stage of development is.
When you cultivate an awareness of your child’s growth, you’ll realize how much you can benefit him through your simple daily interactions. Remember that you are a unique person, created by God to be the parent to your specific child or children. You can incorporate your interests into your parenting journey.
Parenting this way means nurturing your hobbies as well as your child’s. You may not be passionate about cooking, but you might enjoy painting, being outdoors, or playing a sport. At some point, you’ll be able to share this enjoyment with your child.
Don’t feel compelled to read every parenting book, but finding one or two that sit well with you can be highly encouraging. You might enjoy Simplicity Parenting, The Whole-Brain Child, or books by Sally Clarkson.
The book Desperate by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae was written particularly for moms of young children. Embrace the idea of seasons. Different parenting personalities mesh better with different seasons of childhood.
The preschool years are some of the most physically exhausting for parents, but the more you invest in your kids and persevere when they’re young, the greater rewards you will reap as they get older.
But, while your kids are little, it’s easy to overwhelm yourself thinking that you have to do everything right now, to teach them everything, and experience everything from the beginning. Some things are easier and more natural when kids get older, and you don’t have to rush it. Your family culture will develop naturally over time.
4. Find routines and rhythms
Do you have general routines for morning, after school, bedtime, and weekends? Do you have “hard stops” in your day, especially if you are home with children all day? For example, meals, naps, and bedtime are all “hard stops,” and you can have flexibility in the chunks of time in between.
Do you have personal routines that help you take care of yourself rather than just falling asleep on the couch once the kids are finally in bed? Very short and small routines for exercise and self-development can help you gradually build up to more focused personal care and goals.
Make sure you have time to take care of yourself. If you’re in an externally stressful season, it might take extra creativity to figure out how to do survival mode well. But when you can, choose to thrive.
Especially if your kids are school-age or older, do you have family rhythms that help shape your unique family culture? You can start simple, and know that family traditions benefit everyone’s mental health and sense of closeness.
Try weaving traditions into ordinary days, not just holidays. Watch a black-and-white TV show every Friday night, or make pancakes every Saturday morning, or take a hike every Saturday afternoon.
Meals and weekends are perfect opportunities to build traditions that kids can anticipate. Smaller rituals can be sprinkled throughout the week, such as reading aloud together, gathering for a snack after school, or taking a walk after dinner.
If you’re feeling truly overwhelmed by parenting, reach out to one of our Christian counselors today for parenting counseling. You don’t have to struggle alone. A compassionate voice can offer a new perspective and offer you a glimpse of the hope you need.
“Root System”, Courtesy of Felix Mittermeier, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Happy Family”, Courtesy of Migs Reyes, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Dinnertime”, Courtesy of National Cancer Institute, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Leafless Tree”, Courtesy of Luke Richardson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License