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Parenting Guide Sheets
10. Looking After Yourself

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Page 10B
2. Handling Stress (Continued)

h) Keep a Journal
    Try writing down the stressful times and what happened and then try alternative approaches and keeping a record of what happens.  
OK, some of these, if you have a toddler, may require you to wait until they have a sleep time.
ii) Things I can do with help
i.e. these are things where I definitely need someone else to give me space from the kids.
j) Go for a quiet, slow walk
   Fresh air and calming activity have a de-stressing effect.  
k) Go for a power walk  
    Pumping blood round the heart sometimes picks us up (as does a visit to a gym).  
l) Walk beside a river or along a beach  
   Running water or beating water creates a therapeutic effect.  An alternative is go and sit in the silence of an old church building for half an hour. Total  silence is equally therapeutic.
m) Go and drink coffee with a friend without the kids
     This is simply another relaxing thing to do if you can get relief.
     NB. Talking with someone about how you feel usually helps – but don't do it with someone who is a negative person!
NB. Once your child(ren) is at playschool, nursery, kindergarten, junior school or whatever, do positive things with your life while they are there. Doing things for yourself will have a calming effect.
iii) Long-term more general issues
There are two things you need to do to minimise difficulties, which are plentiful enough already:
n) Watch your health
In the early days of a new baby you are vulnerable to tiredness from broken nights, and some are vulnerable to post-natal depression
If you have a partner share with them – see previous pages
When you child goes to school you join the wider market place for infections – you will fight off colds, coughs etc. if you maintain good health yourself
Maintain a healthy diet and get exercise – two keys to health!
o) Share with your partner
    Again see previous pages
    Where there are two of you it does need to be a partnership
iv) Breaking into the Stress
Sometimes consciously breaking into the stress by doing something different brings immediate change. We'll deal with this as a means of dealing with your child's negative behaviour on another page, but for now we're talking about breaking into YOUR stress.
Illustration: On one parenting course I was running we were having a time of sharing and one lady started talking about a particularly trying time she was having with her child at home. As she shared, she suddenly said, “In fact I'm so wound up with it that all my stomach muscles have gone tight even as I've been sharing.” Without appearing to respond to her, I said, “Right I want us all to stand up and go out into the next door hall” which we did. “Right I want you to all walk round the outside of the room three times and in that time, with someone else, I want you to come up with twenty things you could do at a child's party.”
This they did. I then sat them back down and turned to the girl who had been sharing previously and said, “What do you think you can do about your situation?” She immediately started coming out with some positive suggestions. I stopped her and said, “By the way, how are your stomach muscles?” She said she was completely relaxed, even though she was talking about her situation again.
Breaking into a time that makes you feel stressed, with something different that is physical and/or mental, can often completely release you from the tension and enable you to move on positively.
3. Planning as a way of Heading Off Stress
As overall strategies, stress can be headed off in the following ways:
a) Determine to start positively thinking about yourself
· Without going into this process in detail, speaking the truth to yourself regularly DOES overcome the negatives that we so often think about ourselves.
· The difficulty about this is that the negatives of your past will deny the good things about yourself, so you may need to sit down with a friend and ask them to tell you positive things about you.
· When you have a list from them, read out and declare that list as truth about yourself, twice a day for a week.
· Watch how you feel about yourself and you might find some good changes!
 b) Decide to positively work through some of the things on this site about parenting
· Working on things you find in these pages brings a positive approach to your parenting
· Particularly pick up on areas you feel unsure about.
c) Start to plan days so you control what happens rather than have to react to crises.
· If your child is still at home, think how to bring purpose & variety into the day
· If your child goes to school, think how to master the evenings
· When holidays come up, plan projects, places to go etc.
4. Recap
     Things we've covered on this fairly short page are:
1. Why is Parenting Stressful?
•  reasons why being a parent isn't always easy
2. Handling Stress
•  things we can do to beat stress
3. Planning as a way of heading off stress
•  things to do to be on top of parenting
Remember, on a bad day when it doesn't all work out as you had dreamt it would, there's a new day tomorrow and you can work at making sure it's not a repeat of the bad day.
At times being a parent is tough stuff, but you're made to handle it!

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