As 21st Century parents, we have more tools than ever for helping our kids learn and grow. And yet, many of us are more stressed than ever. We feel overscheduled and overwhelmed. In addition to the pressure we put on ourselves, there’s external pressure from social media and other sources. We often think we need to compete with others or achieve the picture-perfect family life in our heads. We sometimes set unrealistic expectations for ourselves and our kids. If you feel overwhelmed as a parent, you’re not alone. Here’s a look at some of the reasons today’s parents feel overwhelmed and some strategies for managing our concerns.
Why Do I Feel Overwhelmed As a Parent?
As parents, we have more on our plates than ever. Many of us juggle work and family, and our kids are busier than ever. We may get home from work only to have to prepare dinner and then take our second shift as a sports or performing arts taxi. While it’s great for kids to be engaged in activities, sometimes families overdo it. Set limits and choose the activities your children find most valuable.
Many of us are prone to overthinking. We magnify minor problems and turn them into big ones in our heads. It can cause unnecessary stress and a sense of overwhelm.
We often want to control every aspect of our children’s lives and don’t give them the freedom to make choices–and mistakes.
Social media takes peer pressure and keeping up with the Joneses to new levels. We may wonder if we’re good enough as parents if our child’s birthday parties aren’t Pinterest-worthy.
Our children’s mental or physical health challenges can add to our sense of overwhelm. It’s critical to seek resources and support from schools, other agencies, and your pediatrician.
How Can I Manage My Feelings of Overwhelm?
Managing our feelings of stress and overwhelm is often a matter of shifting perspective. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers several tips for parents to feel less overwhelmed:
- Compartmentalize challenges and break down problems into smaller parts.
- Take stock of the stressors in your life and acknowledge how much power you give each one. Take a step back and put the challenge at hand in perspective. Consider whether a specific concern is a “real tiger” that deserves our attention–or a paper tiger that we should acknowledge and move on.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings. It helps you express your concerns and make you feel more in control. It can also provide much-needed perspective.
- Volunteering takes us out of ourselves and lets us focus on helping others. It also provides opportunities to connect with neighbors.
- Be a role model for your children by giving up negative self-talk and shifting to a positive approach.
- Take time to recharge. Self-care is essential to great parenting.
- Ask for help. Finding a qualified therapist can help you process your fears and concerns. Your pediatrician is also an excellent resource for dealing with your children’s challenges and parenting concerns.
How Can My Pediatrician Help With Parenting Concerns?
From infancy through adolescence, we often feel stressed or overwhelmed as parents. Whether it’s the stress of a baby with feeding issues to the many challenges of raising a teen in today’s society, your family pediatrician is an excellent resource through all phases of your parenting journey. Your pediatrician can assess your child if they are exhibiting challenging behaviors and provide help and resources as needed. Helping your children handle stress and manage medical conditions can help your entire family. Your pediatrician is also trained to recognize signs of postpartum depression in new parents and can help parents in all phases find mental health resources. At Loudoun Pediatric Associates, we know that having healthy parents is good for children’s health. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do for your kids’ well-being. We invite you to reach out to your pediatric practitioner as a first step if you experience mental health challenges or a sense of overwhelm. Our practice can help you find the resources to manage anxiety and find a more positive perspective.