H E L P!
A father with two children (Photo: ShutterStock)
If you are parents of children, here is a fact that will certainly not surprise you: parents, and especially parents of young children these days, often experience fatigue, stress, frustration and burnout.
Recent studies, conducted following the corona crisis, indicate that over two-thirds of working parents report symptoms of "parental burnout".
And the truth is, we don't lack good reasons for this.
With or without Corona, the reality we live in presents us, the parents, with a host of challenges and complexities.
Among them: long working hours, the need to balance between parenthood and career, the (unrealistic) ambition to fulfill the "perfect parenting" model, as it is presented in social media and a lack of available support circles.
Add to all these behavioral difficulties, related to the age characteristics or personal tendencies of your child, and you will get an (almost) sure recipe for a 'parental pressure cooker'.
The problem with parental burnout is that in the long run it can harm us and our children.
It is harmful to us because it harms our health and mental well-being.
It is also harmful to our children, because despite our good intentions, when we are busy and stressed - we are less available to them emotionally and tend to be more reactive.
Which in turn could damage our relationship with them and escalate behavior problems.
get out of the situation
So what can be done to get out of the parental 'pressure cooker' and return the house (and ourselves) to balance and sanity?
Here are a few practical and research-based approaches and tools that you should really get to know.
When you are tired and exhausted, the children pay a price.
Many parents (Photo: ShutterStock)
It may be a cliché, but definitely one that works.
When we are tense and stressed, the first system that is affected is the respiratory system.
A daily practice, in which we stop from time to time, breathe and focus our attention on breathing - can help us greatly to calm down and regulate both the physical and mental systems, to be more present in the 'here and now' and to be a little less impulsive and reactive towards our loved ones.
This approach, which originates in the distant realms of Buddhism, has gained momentum and much sympathy in recent years.
It is a mental practice, focused on directing curious, intentional and non-judgmental attention to what is happening to us in the present moment.
A daily practice of mindfulness can help us regulate our emotions and observe them from the side, without getting carried away or mixed up in them.
Many studies indicate the effectiveness of the approach to strengthening our mental resilience, health, functioning and relationships.
Yes yes, even those with our children.
Another approach that has gained widespread sympathy among professionals in recent years is the approach of conscious self-compassion (Mindful Self-Compassion).
This approach teaches us to observe ourselves with more kindness, friendliness and compassion and to reduce criticism and self-judgment.
Just as we would treat another loved one in times of need (an example of compassionate self-talk: "Yes, I'm tired, irritable and my child is driving me crazy right now. But that's okay, I'm only human. I'll make myself a cup of tea to relax a little").
The groundbreaking research of the psychologist Dr. Kristin Neff indeed confirms that the practice of conscious self-compassion in everyday life leads to the cultivation of mental resilience, to a decrease in stress levels and to the improvement of our relationships.
Reducing unnecessary 'services':
It turns out that in many cases we tend to do much more for our children than what they really need (for example: dressing our little boy in the morning, at a stage when he is already able to do it himself).
This tendency, which has good intentions at its core, may increase our feeling of fatigue and burnout and in the long run - also strengthen the degree of dependence of our children on us.
Pay attention, which unnecessary services are you providing to your children and which daily tasks can they already complete on their own?
Reducing unnecessary 'services' will reduce the burden placed on your shoulders and at the same time - will develop your children's sense of competence and independence.
time for ourselves:
In an era of multiple roles and tasks in our lives, parenting young children can be a particularly difficult and demanding job.
In this crazy race of life, it's important that we don't forget to stop for a moment, take a break and make time for things that can recharge our batteries (for example: rest, drinking a cup of coffee at ease, reading a book, taking a light walk outside or listening to your favorite music).
When our 'tank' is full, it is much easier for us to free up and give to our children.
Connections and support:
There is almost no parent today who has not heard the saying that "it takes a whole village to raise a child".
Parenting these days is especially difficult and challenging when we don't have enough support circles available.
In busy and stressful times, make sure you are not left alone with the difficulty.
Chat and share with your partner, friends or extended family.
Ask for concrete help, when needed (such as: helping with the housework or looking after the children).
And finally - don't be ashamed to seek professional advice when necessary.
Ayelet Shurer Mamlok is an attorney (AM), a certified parent counselor, with a specialization in early childhood. She specializes in 'breathing parentage' - coaching busy parents with toddlers.