It was such a pleasure meeting Jeff and Beth Kleinman at a workshop for MomsMiami.com on Saturday. Not only were they totally enjoyable to talk with, but after the workshop, Jeff posted a blog on the very real topic, “the exhausted parent.”
We need energy to parent consciously, and it is vital that parents take care of themselves. When we do, we model taking care of ourselves for our children and we have the energy to parent responsively rather than reactively. When we are exhausted, we may become what Jeff termed “the explosive parent,” a humorous twist on the book The Explosive Child. Our knee-jerk reactions, especially when we are tired, stressed, or sick, are usually the things we look at in retrospect and wish we had done differently.
What can we do when we are out of steam and just don’t want to do one more thing?
· Recognize when you are tired. Let your body be your barometer. If we deny our exhaustion and continue to press on, we resent what we are doing. Our resentment shows up in how we talk to our children.
· Find time to do what recharges you. Listen to calming music on the way home from work. Meditate. Walk. Read. Ask for time alone at home for fifteen minutes. Take twenty minutes each day just for you.
· Request support. Our family is our first team, and sometimes leaders – parents, presidents and CEO’s – get tired. As a leader, it is great to ask your family for support not only because you will receive some welcome assistance but also because your children learn how to contribute to their team.
· Give your children more responsibilities around the house. Young children are very capable of washing dishes, assisting with cooking, folding clothes and much more. As an extra bonus, they will begin to recognize just how capable they are! As an even extra bonus, you will begin to recognize that you do NOT have to do it ALL.
· Reconnect with your spouse or partner. I feel the most stressed when my husband travels. If you feel like you are a member of a tag team who only exchanges information like ships passing in the night, take time out to reconnect. Have a weekly date night (or day!). Refreshing Relationships is an amazing weekend course to rekindle the love and connect at a very deep level.
· Monitor your self-talk. It is difficult to be cheery when your inner conversation is discouraging and stressful. If you notice that you are thinking what Dr. Becky Bailey calls “not enough” thoughts – not enough time, not enough energy, not enough money, not enough support – shift your thoughts to ones that are more encouraging.
· Acknowledge your gratitude. Write down or at least think about the things for which you feel appreciation and gratitude. This is terrific to do at the beginning and ending of your day.
Taking care of you is not selfish. It actually is your job. A job well done in this case is one that both you and your family will appreciate!