Over the last 24 hours, how many anxious thoughts have you had in regards to your child? Maybe they were struggling with their homework, watching a bit too much television, or behaving in a way that surprised you. Did you lose your cool, want to scream, blame yourself, or take it out on those around you? Yep, sounds like you’re a completely normal parent who is experiencing anxiety and stress.
As therapists, we regularly talk to parents who are struggling with the challenges that come with caring for children. Because so much is out of your control and you love your little one (or not so little teen) so deeply, it can lead to feelings of failure at every turn.
We’re here to give you the feedback that we give to our patients and remind you that parenting is, and always will be, messy.
Let go of perfection
Many of the parents that we support at Sanvello try so hard to do it all perfectly. The stakes are high because they often fear that an imperfect moment will have a catastrophic impact on their child.
Truthfully, we all make mistakes and it’s important for our children to see that we can bounce back and recover when we come up short. To deny them a front row seat to imperfection is the greater disservice. So, remember that with mistakes comes growth… so tell perfection to kindly beat it and celebrate the learning opportunities as a family.
Recharge and regroup
Sometimes the most meaningful part of our therapeutic process we experience with parents is to normalize their feelings of burnout. The truth is that parenting is extremely hard. When you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed, it helps to tap out. Ask for help, take a nap, or step away for whatever break you can give yourself in the moment.
When life as a parent is feeling especially overwhelming, I encourage my patients to break their month into weeks, weeks into days, and days into small chunks of time… focus simply on how you will get through the next 30 minutes…and then repeat for the next small increment of time.
It’s also helpful to remember that at any given moment, taking deep breaths and focusing on our breathing can help us move through tough times. You can even use it as a learning opportunity for little ones, teaching them how to calm themselves using their own breath. Acknowledging and accepting your feelings in these moments of burnout will help you to recharge, regroup, and re-engage.
Increase your circle of support
When you’re feeling pushed to your limits, it’s easy to forget that there are likely people around you who are willing to show up and help. We’ve even designed a tool at Sanvello that helps you to get in touch with your Circle of Support located within the app.
Take time for you
Everyone needs a break, especially parents. Taking time away from your child is important, as it reminds you who you are as an individual. It also allows you to have a stronger, more positive interaction with your children when you return. If possible, consider this your permission slip to take some time for yourself.
We’re here to remind you that you’re not going to always do it perfectly… none of us do. We all forget the art project, lose our cool, burn the toast, and let the mess pile up sometimes. While social media would love for you to believe that other parents are doing better than you (and with perfect lighting!), it’s simply not true. We all struggle.
While we all hope for some fancy new remedy to help us through the more difficult parenting moments, the reality is that these simple tricks we have shared may seem cliche because, well, they actually work. The next time you find yourself feeling anxious, consider reaching out for a little extra support. You’ll likely be met with a great deal of understanding.
By Donna McCutchen, LCSW
Donna is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Florida. She is a Florida State University graduate with extensive experience working globally as an individual, child, marital and family therapist, as well as a conflict resolution specialist. When not seeing Sanvello clients, she is a foster/adoptive advocate and mom to a large and diverse family created by both adoption and biology.
By David Rawlins, LPC
David is a licensed professional counselor who has worked in the field of mental health and substance abuse for over 20 years. He has worked at every level of treatment, from peer services, case management, therapy, supervision, and administration. He is trained in several evidence-based practices and supports people with depression, anxiety, trauma, and stress. When he’s not seeing Sanvello clients, David coaches sports and leads local youth activities.