Being a parent is one of the most important and rewarding jobs you’ll ever have. Add being a parent of a neurodiverse child (with a diagnosis of autism, ADHD, and or anxiety/OCD), you have to parent differently. And, when you’re in the thick of it with some pretty challenging behaviors, it’s safe to say it’s also one of the most stressful jobs on the planet. A little stress is normal and expected when it comes to parenting, especially when you’re trying to balance work life and home life, or you’re trying to keep up with your kids’ schedules, and needs each day.
However, too much stress can lead to burnout, anxiety, or even depression. If that happens, you will not be able to take care of the family the way you want, and your mental and physical health could suffer. Thankfully, there are things you can do to help with parenting stress. Let’s look at some tips you can practice to cope and prioritize taking care of your well-being.
1. Understand the Cause?
Sometimes, your stress might stem from a busy schedule or feeling overwhelmed by everything you have to do for your kids each day. Other times, it could be caused by your child’s situation, like being bullied or not making good grades. Understanding the cause of your stress is the best way to start combatting it. Ignoring it will make things worse, so no matter how difficult it is to accept, learn the root cause of your stress so you can address it directly.
2. Talk to Your Partner
Whether you’re married, in a long-term relationship, or even divorced from your children’s other parent, talk to them. You’re not in this alone, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed with stress, they should be your first resource to provide support and “backup.” What that looks like depends on your individual needs, but expressing your struggles and letting them know how they can help will make a big difference.
3. Lean On Your Support System
In addition to working with your partner, it’s also important to lean on family members, friends, or even other parents for help. As the old saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.”
You’re not a bad parent for reaching out for help. Letting others support you and meet your needs will actually give you more time and energy to be the parent you truly want to be. Whether it’s asking for someone to run errands, watch your kids for a while, or simply offer a listening ear, lean on your support system as often as possible.
4. Practice Self-Care
There’s a misconception that self-care is selfish, and nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, parents must prioritize it. Self-care looks different for everyone, but it can include journaling, cooking a healthy meal, exercising, or socializing with friends. Try to do something daily that prioritizes your well-being and reduces stress levels.
Speaking of exercising, even if you don’t consider it “self-care,” you should try to get in some physical activity each day. Whether you go for a run each morning or join a fun evening dance class once a week, you might be surprised by how effectively moving your body can be when trying to reduce stress. Exercise is a natural mood-booster and will help you feel happier, more relaxed, and more energetic.
6. Get Enough Sleep
When you have kids, sleep can feel like a luxury at times. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. By adopting a healthy sleep schedule for yourself, you’ll be able to manage your stress levels more effectively, so they won’t feel as overwhelming.
Try to sleep around the same time each night, and establish a sleep routine that makes it easy for your mind and body to wind down. That might include journaling for a few minutes, doing light stretches before bed, or optimizing your sleep environment to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible.
7. Reach Out for Professional Help
Seeking help from a therapist or counselor doesn’t have to be a last resort if you’re struggling with parenting stress. Feel free to contact us to set up an appointment. We can work on getting to the root cause of your stress together and develop even more effective strategies for managing and coping with it daily. You deserve to care for your family without feeling overwhelmed. Together, we can make that happen.