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Coping with the Emotional Stress of Parenthood

Parenthood can be very stressful is an understatement! As soon as you bring your little baby home from the hospital, it can hit you that you are responsible for the care of this child for the next 18+ years. The good news is that you are not alone. In the early baby stages, taking care of yourself by getting some breaks, taking naps when your baby naps and taking time away from the baby with friends usually helps with keeping balance and perspective. Allowing grandparents, family, friends or a trusted babysitter help care for your baby while you get a break is very helpful. Once the baby is in the toddler years there are play groups and classes at the local library or park district or you can meet at the park with other parents. Toddlers are curious and in need of constant attention so getting help from your partner or family members can really help to give you a break. This is a physically exhausting time so going to bed earlier and making sure to get rest and regular breaks is key. By the time the children are in elementary school you will have a little more personal time throughout the day to work or run errands or engage in other activities so when the children get home you can focus on their school work and after-school activities. This can be a super busy time with parents that are juggling both work and children. Taking little breaks during the day for you or getting up early to exercise or meditate really helps with some “me time”. By the time they are adolescents, most parents think that their jobs are “mostly done” but actually this can be a very stressful time as teens are making choices for themselves and pushing the boundaries. You are becoming more of a consultant for your teens helping to lead and guide them to make wise choices. It is important to spend as much time as you can between activities and school just talking about how they are coping with all the physical and emotional changes that they are going through. This is a time to model good self-care by exercising and taking time away for yourself so that they can see how to do it for themselves. When teens are in high school, they are pretty independent and able to do many things for themselves but it is still important to work on your connection and your relationship with them by setting boundaries and affirming choices. You can help them to make choices for their future but remember it is “their choices” and “their future”. When teens make choices we don’t like it’s important to not shame them but rather to lead them in the right direction and help guide them to clean up their own messes and to not do it for them. It’s important to remember that we all make mistakes and have hopefully learned from them. Share some of your mistakes and what you have learned. Having a trusted therapist/counselor to help you navigate all these stages of a child’s life is helpful. I am here to help you with any of the stress and challenges parents face caring for children and adolescents.