So it’s back to school. Mothers and fathers are breathing a sigh of relief while at the same time undergoing additional stress. Organizing and packing lunches, driving and picking up, homework monitoring and extra-curricular after school program maintenance and scheduling.
Part of the stress on parents is spurred by the much-needed but often busy after school programs. Not only is it a question of what to have your children take part in but as well as the cost, the driving, the planning of dinners, the carpools, equipment, uniforms etc…
So what do parents do to stay calm and level-headed?
My suggestion would be to enroll in an activity yourself. I argue that this is possible for anyone. Although easier for some more than others, I think it is a hugely important thing for parents to take time for themselves to relax and recharge. It is important that parents carve out time for themselves for a variety of reasons;
1 – Improve or maintain health good health: registering in a leisure activity can include a form of physical fitness – whether it is going to the gym, signing up for a kickboxing class or a masters swim team, they all will benefit you in some way physically – as a part of a healthy lifestyle
2 – Reduce stress: whether it is a spin class, cooking class or a yoga class, there are aspects of any of these activities that help to reduce stress. Even stepping away from the house and the kids and doing something on your own, for YOU, helps to slow your breathing and gain perspective. Yoga has meditative qualities and breathing exercises that make you stop to focus on yourself.
3 – Lead by example: children learn how to relax and spend leisure time by watching their parents. Do you read? Do you have a hobby? Do you exercise? Do you know how to relax? Do you take time for yourself? By doing these things teaches children the importance of balance and making yourself a priority.
4 – Perspective: I know that when I return from a walk or a yoga class or a warm bath, I am much more “level-headed” than before the activity began. These activities force one to step away from the current, sometimes crazy, situation and just breathe. Simply breathing and not “thinking” per se allows you to relax, focus and gain perspective. Is the puzzle spread over the flood a tragedy? Is the sink full of dishes going to be the end of the world? If the floor doesn’t get vacuumed today will anyone be worse off in life?
So my advice to parents during “back to school” time is to get “back to you”. Put yourself on the ever growing “to-do” list. Ask for help when you need it. Make yourself a priority. Do not feel guilty or make excuses why you can’t. You and your family will be far better off if you take this advice. A happy mommy makes a happy family.