High levels of stress in the parenting domain can lead to parental burnout, a condition that has severe consequences for both parents and children Picture: Pexels
THE DEMANDS of day-to-day life can create stress, which in turn can lead to mental health difficulties and result in parents and carers feeling as though they are unable to cope. With the return to school looming large and the cost of living crisis hitting a lot of families hard, it is important, that we can manage how we respond to events in life.
For many parents and carers, the idea of self-care and of taking some well-deserved ‘you’ time can seem like an alien concept. Parents and carers often worry that if they take some time out for themselves they are being selfish. To the contrary, it is important that parents and carers continue to explore and engage their own passions and interests where possible. This can help to ensure your identity as an individual remains intact – and happy parents often make for happier kids.
Taking time out for yourself by choosing to, for example, go for a walk, take a bath, catch up with a friend, or pursue your interests, sends a very positive message to your children about the importance of taking care of yourself. Role modelling positive self-care also demonstrates to your child a powerful strategy for managing any stress they might experience. How we react to stress will influence how our children react to stress.
We can all feel pressure at different times in our lives. Having responsibility for a child or children can present extra challenges to a parent or carer’s mental health. These challenges may include worry, fear, a lack of knowledge, a feeling of being overwhelmed, loneliness and more.
Each stage of parenting brings with it its own set of demands. When children are infants, parents and carers experience sleepless nights due to teething or any other number of issues. When children grow into teenagers and gain a degree of independence, parents and carers may experience sleepless nights until their children return from discos and late-night socialising.
Social media and how we interact with it can have a big influence on how we view ourselves. While many parents and carers find parenting blogs and social media influencers (who share their experience of parenting) beneficial, some may find themselves negatively comparing themselves and their parenting abilities. Remember that challenges associated with life and parenting can be under-represented by influencers who wish to present content which is purely positive.
It is important to know that support is available to any parent, carer or individual who may find life, or parenting, overwhelming and may experience stress, or mental health difficulties. Further support and information is available at www.yourmentalhealth.ie. If you are concerned about your mental health, contact your GP for an individual consultation.
This article was contributed by a member of Parenting Limerick. Parenting Limerick is a network of parenting and family support organisations. For more information on this and other topics go to www.loveparenting.ie.
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