Every parent experiences moments of high stress, but when the stress level in a household is constantly elevated due to difficult circumstances or an overwhelmed parent, the effect can be decremental for everyone involved.  While every parent is vulnerable to parenting stress, one study published in 2015 found that mothers with a history of trauma are especially inclined to resort to harsh punishments and unhealthy coping mechanisms in response to the stress that comes from disciplining a child.  Researchers are not only concerned for the wellbeing of parents who are becoming overwhelmed, but also for children who are suffering the well-documented long-term repercussions of harsh discipline.  

Most parents love their children more than anything in the world, and would never want to cause them harm.  Many parents become frustrated with a child’s actions and believe that punishment will prevent further behavioral decline.  Other parents are simply forced to take on more than they can handle, and mental health takes the back burner to work, household chores, and parenting responsibilities.  Using healthy strategies for coping with parenting stress can increase the quality of life for everyone in the household, and create improved outcomes for parents and children alike.

Make Time for Joyful Activities

Many parents who become overwhelmed with parenting stress are likely to feel like they don’t have enough time in the day.  If you are a working parent with more than one child or a child that requires extra attention, it can feel like the only time you have to spend with your kids should be used to enforce discipline, make sure they are tending to their responsibilities, and feeding them a decent meal.  This process becomes routine in many families, leaving no room for quality time or family leisure. Try scheduling fun and joyful experiences with your kids, and prioritizing that time just as you would if they had a doctor’s appointment. These actives don’t have to cost a lot of money.  Get up early to take your children to the park on a weekend morning, or occasionally stay up late to watch movies and eat popcorn. These special moments help establish the parent-child bond and build a sense of love and security in the household, making it easier to deal with confrontations and difficult behavior in the future. 

Make Time for Yourself

While spending quality time with your children is extremely important, it is equally important to take time for yourself.  Of course, not everyone has the resources to hire a nanny or go out for a spa day, but taking a few quiet moments that are just for you can go a long way in preserving your mental health.  You may want to wake up especially early one day during the week to read, enjoy a cup of tea, take a long bath, or take your time eating breakfast before the kids wake up. If you are feeling the need to get away, try finding a trusted friend or family member that you can confide in, and ask for their help with the children just once a month so you can spend some time alone.  Most parents, especially those that have already raised their kids, will understand what you are going through. If all else fails, stay up late and have a movie and popcorn night all to yourself.  

Focus on Your Health

Everything in life is more difficult when you aren’t feeling physically well.  As a parent, it is your job to be there for your children day and night, and putting the needs of others before yourself can leave you physically depleted.  Making sure to eat three healthy meals a day, find time for physical activity, and avoid unhealthy behaviors such as drug and alcohol use will not only keep your body strong and capable but also provide the foundation for mental wellness.  It is important for your children to see you taking good care of yourself as well because this will ensure they prioritize their own health in the future.

Seek Professional Help

Many parents feel ashamed to ask for help with mental health or addiction issues because they worry that they will be judged or seem like an incompetent parent.  The truth is that asking for help when you are struggling is an incredible show of strength and love for your children. Parents who suppress their own pain and ignore their stress are more likely to make irresponsible parenting decisions that harm their children in the long run.  Seeking professional help in the form of a therapist or addiction professional is the best choice you can make for you and your family.

Many parents who struggle with overwhelming stress and mental health issues turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.  If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental health issues, now is the time to seek help. At Burning Tree Ranch, we specialize in long-term care that produces real results, especially for those who have experienced a relapse.  Here you will find a team of qualified and compassionate professionals, ready to help each client through a customized treatment program that addresses all aspects of addiction, including the identification of co-occurring disorders. We know that the journey towards recovery doesn’t end with the conclusion of an inpatient program, which is why we provide extensive aftercare programs to best support our clients during their transition into lasting sobriety.  We also know that addiction affects the whole family, and therefore loved ones are encouraged to participate in the recovery process and take advantage of all our support resources. For more information, call us today at 972-962-7374.