A peaceful mind for a peaceful home
Ellen Kolomeyer | Aug 2, 2022
When I think about a peaceful home, the first thing that comes to mind is one of the top barriers preventing us from achieving it as often as we would like: stress. But the conversation about parental stress is, at its core, a conversation about a state of being and a mindset. It’s a conversation about where the stress is coming from. Common stressors for many parents include feeling unsupported, unheard, worried, and doing too much on our own. The reality is that we live in an individualistic society where we're idolized as “super-parents” for doing it all ourselves. Yet, we were never meant take everything on by ourselves.
When the stress snowballs, it can start to manifest in other ways like feeling defeated, depleted, triggered, or even angry. That anger can be a somewhat less expected and more surprising experience. Of all the things you prepared for in parenthood, you never expected to feel so angry. But it creeps in when every little thing seems not so little anymore and makes you want to scream at everyone and run away. Everything makes your blood boil; everything is infuriating both physically and emotionally, and you’re exhausted of it all.
We’ve all been there. When you’re in that place, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s hard to see how you’ll ever feel peace again.
I’m here to tell you – there’s hope. The stress, the anger, and all the other feelings that bubble up are not the core issues themselves; they are symptoms. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Unsupported? Disconnected? Resentful? Reality is different than your expectations?
You're. Burnt. Out.
Can we solve the massive umbrella of systemic issues that contribute to that in this one blog? No. But what we can do with this space is help get you on track to feeling restored and feeling like yourself again. Keep reading for my top three tips on managing burn out and achieving more peace in your life.
Full disclosure: these are the things I try my best to keep in mind every day, but I am not perfect at it, nor do I strive to be. Always remember, there is no such thing as perfect parenting. There is only ever good enough most of the time.
(1) Let go of what you can’t control. This is also known as picking your battles and picking them wisely. It’s a multi-step process. First, we need to manage our expectations for what our kids are capable of understanding and handling at their specific age and developmental stage. Chances are that your kids are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing in how they explore and learn about the world at their age. Moreover, we must manage our expectations of what we ourselves "should" be doing. So let go of the small things and focus on the big picture.
Consider putting things into three categories: the non-negotiable list (these are your absolute must-do’s), the negotiable list (these are the things you’d like to see happen or are willing to negotiate depending on how you feel that day and what else is going on in your life), and the let it go list (when you take a step back and look at the big picture, these are the things that truly don’t matter so much and are only causing you more stress).
It can be hugely helpful to break down house rules, boundaries, chores, and behaviors into visual lists to help you see what matters most and where you want to expend your valuable time and energy. The three lists apply whether you just gave birth, or your kids are all living outside the home already, and anywhere in between; this exercise works in any situation.
The most important thing to keep in mind here? Showing yourself compassion. Don’t get too down on yourself when it’s just one of those days and nothing seems to be going right. Break your own rules when need be and move on. Tomorrow is a new day. You are always allowed to have hard days. The goal is not to have an easy, stress-free day every day. That's unrealistic. The realistic goal is to be okay with all types of days, remember that you are the best parent for your child, and recover and move forward with your head held high and your heart open.
(2) I’m willing to bet that if you’re here reading this, your cup may be feeling depleted, and I can tell you that you can’t keep pouring from an empty cup. So, even if all you have is a few minutes to step away, make sure all little ones are safe and take that time out for you. Take some deep breaths, stretch, make that coffee and drink it fresh, fill up your water, eat a meal sitting down, wash your face, brush your hair, change clothes, do what you need to do. It's worth it. Plus, your kids will grow up with a role model who shows them our individual needs are important and they will learn that theirs are too. When you’re ready, come back and reconnect from a fresh headspace.
Ask yourself every day, “What am I going to do for myself today?”
(3) When it feels like everyone around you is driving you crazy, take a step back and observe. Behavior is communication; it’s always telling you something and no one knows your family better than you do. Ask yourself some questions to get started:
Why is this behavior triggering me? Does it really have to do with my kids or is it triggering one of my own core sensitivities?
What is the underlying need (physical/emotional) that my kids’ behavior is showing me?
How can I support my kids in meeting that need?
To wrap up, I’ll leave you with a final thought. As you approach challenging situations, try to balance warmth and firmness. We need both to balance our scale and losing one tips the scale off-balance. When we lose warmth, that firmness turns mean. When we lose firmness, that warmth allows others to take advantage. So, let go, meet your own needs, and you’ll notice it’s easier to interpret what your kids’ behavior is communicating to you. It’ll help you care for others from a refreshed and balanced mindset and invite more peace into your life.
Dr. Ellen Kolomeyer is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in parenting young children and in mental health during pregnancy and postpartum. She is based in Plantation, FL and provides consultations to clients throughout Florida. When you need support, please reach out to Dr. Kolomeyer at 305.619.3264. For more information, visit https://unpolishedparenthood.com and @unpolishedparenthood on Instagram.
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