When Overload Strikes: 3 Tips to Get Parents Through It


The other day, I was so tired I just couldn’t get out of bed.  I knew I really needed to get going because I had to wash my hair before work and get myself ready before getting my kids up to take my daughter to preschool.  But I just couldn't move.   And then, I heard those little footsteps coming down the hallway….  


After spending several minutes cuddling, I hurried into the shower while my husband got breakfast ready .  The rest of the morning was a rush and I tried t throw lunches together and  make sure kids were dressed and hair was combed (who am I kidding, even when her hair is combed my daughters hair still looks like a hot mess...thank you curls!!)  

I heard myself yelling, “Get your shoes on!”, “Put your toys back in your room before someone trips!” “Wash your face!”  --All things that on most occasions is a lot to expect from my 3-year-old but when I’m running late somehow I imagine they will be able to do things they don’t usually do without some assistance.  

Yet still I find myself getting frustrated.

Do you ever notice that the more stressed out you get or the less time you have to get something done, the more upset or more challenging your baby’s or child’s behavior can be?

It is so common for me to hear from parents about their frustration that when they are having a tough day, their baby seems to be more needy.  Or cries more.  Or that it is even more difficult to get them to take a nap, or the nap is not as long as it should be.  

There are several different studies that show our stress levels do impact our children's moods and development including this one about moms and this one about dads.  

Now, believe me I am so NOT sharing this with you to make you feel bad or stressed out (because, believe me, I know you can do that all on your own).  What I want to reinforce here just how important it is for you take time to take care of yourself.  And, do it without any guilt--please--because our children actually need us to do this.


There are THREE simple, but crucial (and, dare I say, life-changing!) ways we can do this:


1. Make sure you are getting the sleep and rest you need.  

Do you have a newborn or a toddler that doesn’t stay in their bed and it seems impossible? How can you coordinate with your partner to switch off nights?  Can you have a friend or family member come over during the day to help you get a nap?  An even if you’re not able to sleep while baby is sleeping during the day.  Laying down and resting without scanning your phone can do wonders as well.  The laundry can wait, trust me.


2. Take time away from your family to recharge your batteries or refill your cup.

What do you like to do to that makes you feel good?  Maybe it’s a book club with friends, playing on a recreational sports league, going to a spa for a mani-pedi all by yourself?  Whatever it is that makes you feel good better enables you to be more present for your family.  Would you believe me if i told you your family needs you to do this just as much as you do?  When you get time away, it allows you to be more fully present when you return.  Remind yourself of that when the guilt creeps in.


3. Just breathe.  (No, seriously.)  

Sometimes in the moment it feels like the world is crashing down on us.  That is when it is so important to take a deep breath--or several.  I talk with my clients about having a practice of doing deep breathing exercises.  There are several different types out there and this is one of my favorites to start.   Ideally, if you can practice doing the deep breathing exercises before you get out of bed in the morning, around lunch time, and then when you lay down to go to bed at night.  It makes it easier to access this technique in your emotional toolkit when you find yourself in one of those moments where everything feels like it's too much.  Bonus: You can also model the deep breathing with your toddler or older child when they get overwhelmed or are having difficulty regulating their emotions.


And if you’re a mom that is really struggling to find the calm in your life (and let's be honest, don't we all from time to time?) and you are in Sacramento, I would love for you to join us at our next 2-hour workshop, Finding Your Calm as a Momma. 


Want more?  Check out these blog posts from my archive:

Finding Your Calm

"I'm SO Busy!" - How to Manage Your Schedule in Parenthood, Part 1

How Getting a Pedicure Can Make You a Better Parent




What a great post Catherine thank you - I used to be so conflicted about taking time away from my fmaily to re charge, now I know I am a much nicer person when I do that.
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Catherine O'Brien

As am I Jo...I definitely need to take care of myself to be a better parent and partner.
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