As many of you will know, the back-to-school time can be overwhelming for both parents and children. As we say goodbye to the long and relaxing days of summer, switching from a slow-paced lifestyle back to the ‘supermum’ persona - stationary shopping, packing lunch boxes, organising after school activities, endless playdates, being a taxi driver, the list is endless… especially on top of the daily emotional load you carry as a parent.
With so much of your time being dedicated to racing around, preparing for the new year and the start of term one, it’s hard to find a balance between caring for your children and caring for yourself yourself.
While we know being a parent often has to come first, and this is the season of life you may be in, in recent years there has been a shift in the way we view our own mental-health and our own needs, in the context of being a parent. Concepts such as burnout and anxiety are much more widely understood and acknowledged, especially after the shift in health priorities after lockdown.
Recent studies have shown that parental burnout has become more evident as a result of this evolving mental health knowledge. It arises when the rewards and the demands of parenting become imbalanced - the energy-consuming aspects of caregiving versus the experiences that uplift, replenish and conserve energy.
We've rounded up some of our top tips to help you remember to look after yourself during a busy time (and remember, go easy on yourself - focusing on just one or two is a great place to start!):
- Take a moment for you. Balance is key - prioritize alone time or do things that are for yourself, rather than others. This is so important, especially when your daily pace starts picking back up.
- Connect with others. Whether this be a friend or a parenting group, it can be good to share with others that are going through similar experiences. This can also be a great foundation for new friendships and support groups.
- Welcome offers to help, or ask when you need it. You don’t have to do everything yourself! Being open to getting help is a great way to lighten the load when things get busy. Take up your Mum’s offer to have the kids on the weekend, or to take your son to get new football boots - every little thing helps!
- Goals are good - but remember that less is more. Set realistic and achievable goals, and stick to them. This is important so you don’t get burnout - you have enough pressure as a parent, be kind to yourself.
- Finding time for you and your partner. Finding time for both you and your partner, if you have one - separately and together is equally important. Consider looking for new ways to spend this time together to really make the most of it.
- Eat well and exercise regularly. Your mind, body and spirit are all connected and need to be nourished. Listen to your body and cherish it - always remember what good goes in will always come out.
- Get outside. Leaving the house and getting outdoors is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. It doesn’t need to be ‘another chore’ to do, but more a way to ‘take a moment’ for yourself and your thoughts. Even a quick walk around the block before pick-up can make a big difference to your mindset.
- Look for ways to make routine tasks easier. The morning rush can be part of the stress, but don’t get too caught up in it. There’s always ways to change or adjust the way you do things. Making the smallest change could make the biggest difference (for both you and the kids).
- Don’t try to do too much. It’s normal in the new year to want to jump into everything in full swing - especially if your children are busy with sports, parties, and playdates. Try to keep life simple for yourself and don’t overschedule - it’s okay to say no. If necessary, try tag-team with other parents or family members, so that you don’t have to personally do everything.
Enjoy today and embrace gratitude. There is something beautiful in every day! Daily reflections are a good ritual to get into the habit of - whether it’s in private or at the family dinner table. Acknowledging the good in your day and practicing gratitude is a small way to make a big change.