A few weeks ago, we published a blog about the stress levels of teens. And while teens today are seriously stressed, many seem to forget that their parents are just as stressed. In 2014, the American Psychological Association ran a survey entitled Stress in America. This study found that parents who have a child under 18 at home reported higher stress levels than other adults, and they report doing less to manage their stress. Many parents are laser-focused on helping their kids create the best path they can in order to succeed in the future. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Not to mention easy to lose sight of who you are as an independent adult. It’s common to hear about parental self-care in regard to new parents. But teen parents also need to practice parental self-care.
Parental Self-Care is Crucial
Parental self-care is extremely important as it helps make parenting more manageable. But more importantly, it sets an example to your kids about how to be a healthy adult. It shows you respect and care for yourself enough to work through life’s challenges in healthy ways. And remember, self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Self-care is less about “spa days” and more about little meaningful actions and choices.
Parental Self-Care Tip: Make Time for Friendship
According to science in this Time article friendship “helps protect the brain and body from stress, anxiety, and depression.” Four or five friends is all you need in order to reap the benefits. As your kids grow up, it can be hard to find time for friends. But it is so important that you continue cultivating those relationships. Not only is it good for your health, but you’ll want those friendships when your kids leave the nest. By putting time and effort into your own life, you’ll make that transition a little easier to cope with.
Ask for Help
While many mothers fall into the category of needing to be in full control, eliminating and delegating tasks to your teens will help reduce your load. Ask for help folding laundry or prepping a part of dinner. Have them run the vacuum or give the dog a bath. When you delegate to a teen, it’s true that you are helping yourself. However, you are also helping them develop some life skills and learn some valuable lessons.
Sleep…You Need to Sleep
We get it. Finding enough time to get everything done is hard. You run from band practice to dance class to sports leagues. And you assist with homework and projects when needed. It’s up to you to take care of the house, the pets, and mealtime. You have to make sure your kids don’t stay up too late, while also carving out alone time with your partner and your own hobbies. It’s understandable that sleep often drops on the priority list when things get busy.
But have you noticed that it’s during those crazy busy times, that the less sleep you get, the harder it is to cope? Not to mention, it’s harder to fall sleep and stay asleep as an adult. It’s more important now than ever to follow healthy sleep practices. Put your phone and other handheld devices down at least an hour before bed. Be consistent with your sleep schedule. Even something like getting yourself new, comfortable PJ’s can help!
Get off your phone. Get off your work email. Get off your tablet.
It is crucial to unplug from stress and comparison every now and again. Do your best to spend time relaxing, getting outdoors, and taking time for yourself. Take the family dog for a walk without podcasts or music. Bike or take the family on a hike when you can manage it. Getting outside in the fresh air and natural sunlight can help you re-center and deal with the next thing the day throws at you.
On that Note, Get Moving Too
Now we aren’t saying you need to go to boot-camp classes and be one of those “fit moms”. And we know that exercising isn’t fun for a lot of people. But self-care isn’t always easy. Exercise gives us a number of benefits. Do your best to find what works for you. Maybe that is a boot-camp class, or running, or yoga. Once you find one that makes you happy, you can begin shifting your perspective on exercise. When it becomes less of a chore, you’ll be more inclined to keep it as a part of your weekly routine.
Things to Remember:
Self-care is individual. What works for some won’t work for others. Maybe you’re a yoga-get-in-tune-with-nature type. Or perhaps you’re more of a facemask-and-read-to-recharge type. Self-care is a lot of trial-and-error. And the same coping mechanism won’t always work for the same stressor. Continue experimenting so you can find what works best for you.
Self-care also works best when it is a part of your routine. Regular acts of self-care keep you energized. Not to mention helps you deal with pressure and stress. Make it a family ordeal and talk about the importance of each doing the things you enjoy, that make you feel happy. Bounce ideas and put them in the planner or calendar. As we said, sometimes self-care isn’t exactly fun. But make sure to enjoy it when it is!
Managing Parental Self-Care with CPA
Life is going to continually throw us obstacles. What matters most is not what comes our way, but how we cope with it. We know you need a toolbox full of skills in order to cope with the challenges that life throws at us. At CPA, we will always encourage parents to explore coping mechanisms that work best for them. However, we also know that a number of those skills come from counseling and different methods of therapy.
Cristina Panaccione and Associates has two locations in the South Hills and one office in Robinson Township. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help teach you the skills to help you practice parental self-care.
Scott Cunningham – LPC
For the past 20 years, Scott has been providing a safe and supportive environment where people feel comfortable talking about their depression, fears, stresses, and hopes for life. Having a collaborative relationship with clients is important to him. Scott brings hope and knowledge into his sessions and provides psycho-education to aid in the effectiveness of therapy. He works with clients coping with issues such as, but not limited to anxiety, trauma, depression, partner-relational issues & phase of life transitions. My experience entails couples, adolescent, family and adult counseling. He is certified in Chemical Dependency Counseling, ASIST Suicide Intervention, Crisis Intervention Stress Management, and Comprehensive Crisis Management. He has earned his Master’s Degree in Counseling Education from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor’s of Science in Christian Counseling from Fort Wayne Bible College.
Scott’s goal is to help people struggling with trauma to regain stability and strength as well as insight into their issues. He believes that everyone has an innate ability to grow and learn. He enjoys helping people accomplish that goal and live better and more productive lives.