Judging from the looks of Pampers commercials and the camera-ready parents on Instagram, there’s nothing more blissful than becoming a parent. As parents, days are filled with the sound of their children’s laughter, dance recitals, soccer games, family vacations and bake sales.
However, parenthood may not turn to all that it’s cracked up to be. Many parents will tell you about the other side of it. While there’s much joy involved in being a parent, it can also be overwhelming and exhausting and sometimes parents simply need to rest.
All parents feel the weight of parenthood. If you’re feeling the pressure, too, know that you’re not alone. Parenting can be extremely rewarding and stressful at the same time. So, it’s important to ensure you’re looking after yourselves to truly enjoy the experience.
Why Parents are Exhausted
As you may know, caring for a child along with their needs can be exhausting on so many levels. With babies, they need constant care and attention — feeding them every few hours while they wake up dozens of times in the middle of the night. Some babies even need bizarre rituals to help them fall asleep, stop crying or get them to eat. And don’t forget the endless supply of dirty diapers and vast amounts of bodily fluids that somehow end up on the parents daily.
The constant attendance and lack of sleep can leave parents feeling physically tired — and it’s quite common to feel this way. In a 2018 survey, researchers found that more than 900 parents were experiencing burnout, exhaustion in their role and emotional distance from their children.
While it’s physically exhausting, it can also drain their emotional, cognitive and psychological health. Focusing your attention on your child and her playtime can be wearying — and many parents tend to zone out. Then they get feelings of guilt because they’re not 100% present.
Battling parental burnout can be quite challenging at times — but if you feel you’re on the verge of a breakdown, here’s how to cope.
Taking Care of Your Body
Both parents need to ensure their looking after themselves on a physical level. Physical care is especially important if you’re a new mom because it takes at least 3-4 months for your postpartum body to heal properly.
But with a new baby to care for, eating right and exercising might be the last things on your mind. This is where you as a couple can ensure you give each other time and space to support one another when looking after your bodies.
Here are tips to help you look after your physical health.
Remember to Rest
When your days are filled with no sleep, your body has to adjust. So, remember to rest when you can — sleep when the baby sleeps and ask each other for support when feeling the strain of exhaustion.
It’s crucial to nourish your body with freshly cooked ingredients so you can get the nutrients you need for optimal energy. So, make sure you eat right with vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruits, healthy fats — and ensure you’re staying hydrated.
Exercise Lightly then have a rest
If you’re a new mom, your doctor will evaluate your health to determine when you can start exercising again. Light exercise entails swimming, walking, yoga and light cardio — and can do wonders for your body while recovering. Sometimes a stroll in the park with your little one can make all the difference for your health.
Taking Care of Your Emotional Health
Both parents are at risk of depression when work and exhaustion accompany parenthood. It’s one of the most common mental health disorders in the U.S. — and 1 in 5 children live with a parent that struggles with depression. And while many women state they experience the “baby blues” postpartum, this typically dissipates within a couple of months to a year. However, parental blues can also wax and wane over the child’s time at home.
So, it’s important to take care of yourself mentally by establishing a support group of friends. It can be tempting to stay holed up at home with a new baby. However, going out at least once a week can contribute to your emotional health in wondrous ways.
Furthermore, self-care is especially important. Self-care doesn’t involve pampering yourself each day. It just means that you should be communicating with your partner about your troubles, worries and fears. That way, you can support each other throughout your parenting journey together.
Make Up for the Lack of Leisure Time
Scheduling fun activities alone or with your spouse is the key to parental happiness. Many parents will tell you that leisure time is more enjoyable after becoming a mother than before. So, make time for personal activities for yourself or the both of you. That way, you can maintain a sense of self and your sanity.
Pursuing a passion project, reading your favorite book, or visiting a museum can significantly take the stress out of parenthood. Just make sure that you and your spouse get to have a night out because doing so can strengthen your bond, benefitting the child.
Take Parenthood a Little Less Seriously
Parents are more self-conscious these days. They monitor their children’s every move and pack their children’s schedules full of extracurricular activities. Yet, as helpful as parents try to be, sometimes they do too much without realizing it.
So, doing less can make parenting more enjoyable. For instance, letting your kids play independently can help them learn their way into the world. Of course, supervision should be present, but it’s critically important for your kids’ cognitive development. Plus, over-parenting can lead to more stress and anxiety.
So, for your kids’ sake and your overall well-being, learn to have fun with your child — and let them have fun, too. This will not only make parenting more pleasant, but it will help your child grow.
Enjoy Parenting While It Lasts and rest when you need to rest
Approaching parenting as a process can maintain your sanity through it all. As significant as the bad times are, remember that they’re only temporary. The good times fly by just as quickly, so enjoy it all while it lasts.