How to Avoid Parenting Burn-Out During the School Year
It’s only been three weeks since the girls started school and yet I am already beginning to feel a bit lethargic and stressed out from our usual routine. The constant driving to and from activities, the numerous school forms, the different deadlines are enough to make any parent seek those dog days in July when the kids were driving us bonkers from restlessness and boredom. It is easy to feel frazzled and stressed out but we must keep in mind how easy our inner moods and disposition can permeate and affect our kids’ attitudes toward schooling and activities. Our kids are smart and sensitive and they can easily detect when we support or hate certain things that they are doing. So how do we cope with the drudgery often associated with parenting and avoid burn-out? Here are a few ideas:
- Think of the end goal – Remember why you are taking your child to different activities. Is it to help him get more comfortable with Math? Is it to work on his soccer skills? Don’t resent him or the activity because of the time commitment, just focus on why you are doing what you are doing and help your child get there.
- Days are long, the years are short – Another mom said this to me when the girls were little. I had a hard time agreeing to this expression then when I was constantly sleep deprived and pretty much in zombieland 24/7. However, now that the girls are grown and high school is not a distant reality for us, I realize how precious the remaining time I have with them. The girls will be gone one day and this juggling act will be nothing but a distant memory. Just remember to make everyday count!
- Three things – I recently heard this meditation strategy at my older daughter’s school. At the beginning of each day, think of three things that you are grateful for. Then at the end of the day, think of three acts of kindness that you might have done toward someone. Reflecting this way grounds us and helps us remember what is good in our lives and forces us to think in selfless terms.
- Have fun with your kids – Make sure that you have fun quality time with your kids. When you are in the car with them, listen to the music they like. Unplug and tell them not to use their cell phones. Kids are usually more relaxed in the car when they do not have to look directly at us. Start by asking small questions about their day but let them take the lead; they are likely to clam up if you pry them to open up beyond their comfort level. And make sure that you give them undivided attention when they do finally open up.
- Take time for yourself – Regardless of whatever utopian or benevolent approach we take in parenting, we all need to have time away from our roles as parents, providers and caregivers. Make sure to do something just for you on a weekly basis. What were your passions before kids? Do you have new interests you would like to pursue? Remember to always stoke the fires of creativity and individuality that make you vital and happy.
Hope some of the ideas above help. Let me know what your strategies are to cope with parenting juggling act. I would love to hear them!