Do you ever get that feeling of being completely overwhelmed when you’ve taken on too much? Like you want to tell the whole world to sod off for a bit and leave you in peace?
Oh good – not just me then.
As a parent, having to deal with lots of sh*t at once, of both the literal and figurative kind, comes with the territory.
When things get overwhelming I have to suck it up. I can’t just hide under the duvet all day drinking tea and eating my body weight in chocolate. Even though (especially since the arrival of my second child), there have been plenty of occasions when I would have given my right arm to do just that. But, he’s only little and, you know, relies on me to keep him clothed and fed, so I haven’t.
Instead, when it all starts building up and the stress levels begin to rise, I find that the best tactic for self-preservation is to quietly have a word and remind myself to do the following:
Take some time out
Have a bath. Read a book (or the same paragraph three times before falling asleep as usually happens). Write. Meditate if that’s your thing. Pour a glass of wine make a cup of tea and switch off the phone for an hour. Watch something mindless like Geordie Shore on telly.
It doesn’t have to be for long but I find just making the effort to do something for myself (and not feeling guilty about it – see below) makes a big difference to my state of mind.
Say no to people
One of the biggest causes of stress for me is having too much stuff planned. I hate saying no to people. I want to keep everyone happy. But whether it’s family, friends or someone at work, by constantly agreeing to things I end up spreading myself so thinly nobody gets the best of me.
It’s not always a bad thing to turn down a friend for coffee, a play date for my daughter or extra work if the result is me feeling less frazzled.
Having no plans is sometimes the best plan.
Clear out some crap
I’m naturally a messy person. When I was a child my mum drummed into me ‘tidy room tidy mind’, in an effort to get me to keep my bedroom tidy. It stuck with me and – as with most things my mother says to me – she was right, I tend to feel a lot less stressed if I’m not tripping over stuff.
Again, kids and mess come hand in hand, but having decent storage and regular decluttering prevents me from losing the plot on a regular basis.
Recently, this has been difficult to achieve as we’ve had some building work done at home and it’s been hard to keep on top of things. I’m slowly working through things though and sorting stuff to either chuck, give to charity or sell on eBay. It might not look much different but just 20 minutes here and there (while the boy naps) clears my head as well as some space.
Stop feeling guilty
A lot of parenting stress is caused by pressure we put on ourselves. We want our children to have the best of everything, even if that means running ourselves ragged to achieve it.
I always beat myself up if – due to lack of time/planning/being bothered – I give my daughter a ‘lazy tea’ (e.g. spaghetti hoops on toast, cheese and crackers, erm, even Weetabix if things are really desperate). But will a bowl of cereal for dinner once in a blue moon really do her any harm? Or an unironed school uniform? Or a few hours in front of the telly just so that I can get things done?
My children eat a balanced diet, they start the morning with clean clothes and I try to spend quality time with them every day. I may not be wonder woman but I am generally pretty good at this parenting business so I need to cut myself some slack.
Do you thrive on stress and feeling under pressure? Or can it get the better of you too and if so how do you manage it?