Feeling more joy and less stress everyday as a parent

This is an EveryDayReflection on getting through stressful moments of parenting. When we are feeling less stress, we can appreciate and enjoy more moments with our children.

Whenever my children are feeling big emotions and melting down,  one of the first things I try to say is, “calm down and take a deep breath.”

And now when I’m starting to feel stressed and overwhelmed, “take a deep breath, Mommy” is the first thing my daughter says to me. 

Hearing her say this may  to me really helps. Even though it may not be the thing I want to hear in that heated moment—it helps me get present. Once I’m present and recognize the emotions I am feeling, I can try to think differently. 

There’s nothing worse than looking back at the day I had and feeling like I wasted too much of it by feeling stressed. I usually find something triggered those feelings in me and it snowballed into more and more feelings and emotions like that.

The sooner I can recognize what caused me to feel that way. The sooner I can forgive myself or whatever person or thing caused me to feel this way and the sooner I can let it go and change my thinking. 

I’ve found the way I feel greatly impacts how my children feel. My children pick up my energy—whether its positive or negative. It shows up in their behavior, their energy levels, and moods. Being a parent challenges me to make a shift toward positive thinking and living because I don’t want my children to feel the effects of my negative or stressful energy.

Life Recipe for feeling more joy and less stress everyday

Ingredients

  1. Create positive habits in my life. Things that I do proactively to improve my mood and wellbeing to prevent feelings of stress. 
  2. Recognize the first signs of stress and change my thinking and behavior before it takes over.

Method

When you feel stress coming on, take one minute to yourself. Take a deep breath. Choosing to breath deeply before reacting almost always helps me find some calm first. Our children would rather see us step away and get our calm than overreact, which causes a chain of negativity in them and us.

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” – Sydney J. Harris

When you feel overwhelmed, do one productive thing. Give something all your attention and do it. Sometimes striking one thing completely off your list gives you the focus and calm you need to carry on and do other things. When we are frantically trying to do ten things, we may not even accomplish one of them. And that just leaves us more stressed. Do one thing. Relax and move on to the next.

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” ― Zig Ziglar

Trace back what is causing you to feel the way you are feeling. Get present with your thoughts.  So often we are thinking about something that is out of our control. Rethinking something in our head. Overanalyzing. Comparing or measuring ourselves instead of just being and accepting ourselves. Its helpful to say I am enough. Be kind to yourself. You deserve compassion too.

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.” – Maya Angelou

We don’t choose everything that happens everyday, but we do choose our reaction. Choose love. Two opposing feelings can’t exist at the same time. Where there is fear and worry and anger, there can’t also be happiness and joy and love. We are going to feel negative thoughts. The best thing we can do is feel them fully, accept, and move on so we can experience the next positive thing. If we are stuck in negative feelings, we’ll miss the beautiful things right in front of us.

“Stress is when I’m thinking about something that was or could be instead of what’s in front of me.” – Eckhart Tolle

It’s okay to say no. We don’t have to be everything for everybody. We can’t give our best to others when we haven’t given anything to ourselves. Spreading ourselves too thin could be causing our stress and then we’re not really serving anyone.

“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not sayingno” to yourself.” – Paulo Coelho

Make a little time for yourself everyday. Maybe you can’t make what you love what you do all day. But you can make some part of your day something you love. That little bit of time for you will carry into the rest of your day. And start to set goals and plans for how you can make more of your day what you love.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”  – Rumi

Appreciate more and expect less. Children can make every moment sweeter. They can bring so much joy. But we have to be present for it. When we’re stressed or worried or have set too high of expectations, we miss the beauty in front of us. 

“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”– Benjamin Franklin

This week on the EDEM podcast, we’ll hear from two moms who are sharing their life recipes for building positive habits into their own lives so they feel more joy and less stress in their everyday. I hope you’ll join us by listening on iTunes. Subscribe to the feed.

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