Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | August 28, 2015

How Parents Can Reduce Stress

Parents Can Reduce Stress
This guest post was written by Shari Duddy

Shari Duddy is a Yoga teacher and educator in New Jersey. Shari has many years of experience teaching Yoga.

American humorist Erma Bombeck once wrote, “When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.” Pretty funny, but does it really have to come to that? Another famous quote, this one from an unknown author, is, “Parenting is perhaps the most stressful job on the planet.” You know why that author is unknown? Because they don’t want anyone to know they said it! Any parent who hears that quote knows the word that makes the statement ridiculous… ‘perhaps’! Parenting, without a doubt, is the most stressful job on the planet… there aint no ‘perhaps’ about it! And you’ll never hear anyone who has kids disagree. But what does all that stress do to your parenting… and your life? Though it may seem too many moms and dads like an elusive thing, it is possible for parents to de-stress. There are tangible steps you can take to reducing the stress you feel as a parent.

Get a life

Children don’t have to rule your life. Regardless of what your kids think, there is life outside of parenting. Before you were a parent, you were a human being. Remember that? Remember hobbies and fun and parties and friends and all that other stuff you had before you became a parent? Yes, you’re a parent now, and that means your kids often come first. However, just like when you’re an airplane passenger and you’re told to give yourself oxygen before you give it to your kids, this is also true in everyday life. Your children depend on you, and that means you have to take care of yourself, too. If you don’t reduce your stress levels, you’re going to become a less effective parent. Be sure to have a life outside of parenting. Have your own friends. Develop hobbies. Have date night. Seek healthy friendships outside of family that will enhance your life and reduce your stress levels, thereby enhancing your parenting skills.

Playtime isn’t just for kids

Your children have all the playtime they need. So why not you? You may be answering that question at this moment with something akin to an angry, “Because I don’t have time!” However, if you don’t make time for play in your own life, you’re likely losing more time than you know. If you’re all parents and no play, you’re going to suffer and so will your kids. Try to set aside just 15 minutes a day for fun. Sit and read a book for 15 minutes. Spend 15 minutes watching television that you enjoy (not that your kids enjoy). Spend an afternoon every week or two playing sports (that don’t involve little league or kiddie soccer games). If you find that you just don’t have 15 minutes a day or an afternoon every week or two for your own playtime, try scheduling family activities that you will enjoy, too. Don’t let your kids choose all the playtime the family engages in; try to remember that you’re a member of the family, too.

Don’t wait to exhale

Breathing… it’s something we all do naturally. However, Americans are known shallow breathers, and that means we’re not getting the oxygen we need. Try some breathing exercises that will help not only to calm and relax you, but will also send more oxygen to your cells and your brain. Yoga is an excellent means of reducing stress via breathing exercises and stretches. It’s also a great way to combine playtime with stress reduction and the cardio workout your body needs.

Parenting is the hardest job, it’s true. However, there are tangible steps you can take, as a parent, to reduce the amount of stress you have in your life. And a low-stress parent makes for a better parent. Okay, you might be saying to yourself, “Hey! I’m a great parent!” And that’s likely true. But wouldn’t you like to be a less stressed parent? Try some of the above suggestions from yoga teachers to reduce your stress level, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to parent today than it was yesterday. Will it be easy? Of course not. But your lower level of stress will make you better able to deal with your kids and all their antics… without climbing into a playpen!

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