Keeping It REAL as a Parent!

By Mary Jackson, MSW is a Supervisee in Clinical Social Work in Northern Virginia 

Parents…this one is for you!

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel as if you are going to LOSE IT? Recently I did. It wasn’t just parenting that had me overwhelmed. It was the sum of EVERYTHING. Trying to meet my daughter’s needs, trying to keep up with work responsibilities, and trying to manage everything else in my life. On this particular day, it all felt like too much. I was at my MAX CAPACITY!

Can you relate? The fact is everyone has these moments…even therapists! Everyone has a time when they reach their limit. The good news is, there are strategies we can use, both in the moment and preventatively, so that we don’t max out.

Here are some tips and reminders that can help:

  1. Your kids’ needs are important…and so are yours. Burn out is real. It is important that you remember you must give care to yourself in order to be able to care for your kids. Start listening to your own inner voice and learn (if you don’t already know) what your needs are, just as you would for your kids. Give yourself time and space to express needs…and to meet them.
  2. Be honest. Being open and transparent, especially with our kids, can be scary. It is a different level of vulnerability. However, if done in a healthy way, it can not only help you, but also be a great model for them of self-awareness and management of emotions. For example, saying something like, “Mommy’s a little bit tired today. I love you and I want to be able to give you what you need, so I need a time out just like you do sometimes” can help you get what you need in an honest and healthy way, and show your kids that you are human…and there is no shame in that!
  3. Ask for help. No person is an island, and everyone needs help sometimes, whether that be from a partner, friends, family members, or community resources; ask for help when you need it. Communicating needs can lessen the build-up of resentment and help you to feel connected and less alone.
  4. Make time to rest, reset, and recharge. I know this sounds easier said than done. And, hey, I am not saying take two-week vacations away from your kids. But take time for yourself as you can. Maybe this means getting up a tad bit earlier in the morning or putting the kids to sleep a half an hour earlier, or even, just taking 10 minutes intermittently while they are napping. Get creative. You deserve it.
  5. Try therapy. If you aren’t sure how to do any of the things above or just want some coaching and
    encouragement along the way, therapy is a great place to do that! Furthermore, having a safe and consistent space to share your experience is important. Sometimes, just sharing provides relief as we are able to let go of many things that we are holding in. Therapy is a wonderful resource to do this, as you can process your unique experience with a trained professional who will listen and respond without judgement.

To sum it all up, parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Everyone struggles with it sometimes; remember to be kind to yourself in the process.

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Like what you read here? Mary Jackson, MSW is a Supervisee in Clinical Social Work and one of her specialties is self-care and self-compassion for parents. If you are interested in learning more, visit healthyminds-therapy.com to learn more about Mary and how to connect.

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