The hard work and unpredictability that makes parenting so rewarding can also cause a great deal of anxiety. Here are some simple ways to bring yourself to a place of calm.
Make a To-Do List
Ruminating on worries can cause lots of stress. Clear your mind by making a to-do list. Put down everything that needs to be done into your phone or onto a sheet of paper, and as you write them down, visualize yourself removing this task from your mind onto the list. If you can delegate some parenting to a partner that may be a great help. If not, also be mindful of what you can and cannot do and learn to be okay with the cannot do list.
Watch Your Language
Many times parents believe things will get better when their children move on to the next phase of their maturity. However, the truth is that the worry will continue until you change your pattern of thought. To do this, watch the language you use to describe things. Don’t use phrases such as, “this will be a disaster if I don’t get it done on time” or “I’ll die of embarrassment if I forget.”
Also change thoughts of “I have to” to “I want to”. For example, instead of saying “I have to sign the kids up for karate” say, “I want to sign the kids up for karate because I know they’ll love it.”
There is no competition
Parenting sometimes feels like a competition – kid’s grades, extracurricular activities, etc. get put under a microscope. “Are we doing enough? Will our kiddo get into a good college?” It’s important to remember it’s not a competition. Your kiddo is unique and what may work for one family may not work for yours. Are you a single parent with a special needs child? Maybe you don’t want to enroll your kiddo in all kinds extracurricular activities so each night of the week is taken. Do you have multiple kiddos? Maybe they all aren’t enrolled in four sports each. Be balanced. Your kiddo does not need fourteen pages of extracurricular stuff to go to college or trade school.
Practice Mindfulness Exercises
If your anxiety is difficult to control, try deep-breathing from your belly. While you do this, concentrate on five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. This can help calm you when you’re feeling a panic or anxiety attack start to arise.
Use Your Support Network
Call your friends or family to chat or ask for advice. It may also help to vent with a Facebook parenting group or other online message board. Be mindful here, though! Anything said online sticks around – do not vent about your kids or be overly personal about struggles. Your children deserve some respect and privacy and one day they could read what you wrote. Also, people are more likely to say things on social media they’d never say in person – if you’re upset wait awhile before you post! You can also call your therapist and make an appointment and work through your challenges.
Try these tips to control and cope with your anxiety, and enjoy the time with your children free from worry.
If you’re feeling frazzled and like you can’t get out and would like to explore how counseling might be helpful, feel free to reach out to me at 919-891-0525 today for a free, 15-minute phone consultation. I would be happy to explore how I may be able to help you. If we are a good fit, appointments may be scheduled for my Wake Forest counseling office or online.