Do you ever feel like you are losing the battle juggling work, relationships, family responsibilities, and finding time for outside interests? Well, rest assured you are not alone. You join many other parents trying to figure out how to deal with those feelings of being overwhelmed or out of control. And it can be quite a challenge.
As a new mom many years ago, a friend trying to comfort me told me always to remember that everything is a phase. And she was right. However, it’s a good thing she didn’t tell me just how many “phases” I would go through because as tired and frustrated I was at the time, I might have been tempted to give up.
STRIKING A WORK-FAMILY BALANCE IS HARD, MOST PARENTS SAY
More than 56% of working parents with children under age 18 say it is challenging to balance their job responsibilities with their family’s responsibilities. That pressure leads to feelings of stress, anxiety, and loads of frustration.
In my research, I ran across some great tips on how to feel less overwhelmed and more in control by Natalie Burg at The Muse. I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I would like to share them with you here. I believe you will find them very helpful.
6 Tips To Deal With Feeling Overwhelmed
1. Divide and Conquer
Many parents deal with feeling overwhelmed because there is too much for one person to do in a household with kids. If you’re raising your children with a partner, get the household under control by making it a true partnership.
Make a parents’ chore chart. Be sure to include emotional labor and seemingly small tasks, too, like managing the childcare provider, monitoring the budget, and scheduling family events. Writing everything down makes discrepancies in the division of labor very apparent.
2. Add an Extra Hour of Childcare
Whether you have an in-home nanny or drop the kids off at childcare, it can be tempting to schedule a few hours of coverage as possible to save money and spend time with your little ones. But going straight from the chaos of kids to the bustle of the office and back again can leave you in a constant state of fluster.
Schedule the nanny an hour earlier and take a shower in peace. Drop the kids at childcare a half-hour earlier and read a magazine in a cafe before work. Your brain needs a break before shifting gears.
3. Prioritize and Let Go
Time is a working parent’s most precious resource. A Gallup study found that 55% of adults with children under 18 years old frequently felt they didn’t have enough time, versus 35% of those without kids. Here’s the harsh truth for working parents: There isn’t enough time to do everything you used to do—period.
Randi Zuckerberg has famously written about how people can only manage three of the following things at any given time: work, sleep, family, fitness, and friends. So, pick what matters most and accept that you can’t do it all.
4. Schedule Exercise and Me Time
That doesn’t mean you can never make time for friends and fitness. Exercise and having fun reduce stress, and 58% of adults with kids under 18 years old report frequent stress compared with 39% of those without kids. You need these activities. You just have to schedule them now.
Create a calendar invite for your workouts, as well as weekly or bi-weekly nights to yourself or with friends. Arrange childcare, do a trade-off of responsibilities with your spouse. Set alarms and keep your appointments.
Exercise is essential for parents to prioritize. Not only do your kids rely on you to be in good health, but a study has found that kids exercise more when their parents do.
5. Be Present
To be a great parent takes so much energy and focus. And it takes the same things to have a stellar career. Nothing entirely defines the overwhelmed working parent, like taking work calls during story time or texting your childcare provider during a meeting. It’s stressful for parents, kids, and colleagues.
When you’re at work, try to be at work. When you’re at home, try to be at home. Commit to being present.
6. Remember: This is Temporary
Being a parent may not be temporary, but being a parent of someone who wakes you up at 5 AM and needs you until bedtime is. The kids will get older. They will go to school, and then they’ll start staying after school for activities, and you’ll wonder when they’re going to make time for you.
When things feel incredibly overwhelming, working parents should remind themselves again and again, out loud if necessary, “This is temporary.” You’ll have more time someday. You’ll plant that garden, take that trip, and yes, you’ll be able to sleep in again.
Working parents don’t just go back to normal after making it through early parenthood; they get better. One study found that while working mothers’ productivity went down when their children were young, they became ultra-productive as their children aged, making up for the dip and more by the end of their careers.
“THIS TOO SHALL PASS”
So, the last tip brings me back to what my friend shared with me so many years ago. That everything is a phase (temporary). Yes, there will be times you will have to deal with feeling overwhelmed as a working parent. But let me tell you, there is hope–and help. The hope is that things can be better. The help is tools, such as these tips, or working with an anxiety coach to learn new coping skills that can help you navigate the choppy waters of being a working parent.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. The easiest way to start taking control of your anxiety is to take the FREE 5-Day Anxiety Detox Challenge. If you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or make an appointment online. Together, let’s work on helping you to feel less overwhelmed and more of an overcomer as you tackle the many challenges of family life.