Parenting is a rewarding and challenging job–and a bit of a juggling act! It requires balancing your own needs with the needs of your child while managing your time and resources appropriately. Imagine you’ve had an overwhelming day at work and, now, you’re on your way to pick up your children from school. As you drive, you begin to list everything you have to accomplish that evening (i.e., pick up groceries, cook dinner, help children with homework, get them ready for bed, etc.) Oh, and you just remembered they have a school project due tomorrow and you’re fairly confident it is sitting unfinished on the kitchen counter…an overwhelming scenario, and probably a familiar one, to parents everywhere. Now, imagine, you struggle with anxiety and/or depression–or, perhaps, you don’t have to imagine. If this is something you have experienced, you know how exhausting and discouraging the above scenario can feel.
All parents can use a little extra support from time to time–below are a few methods that can be utilized by parents to decrease the stress associated with the extra challenge of parenting while nurturing their own mental health:
- Attend to your needs–Self-care is critical! This can be challenging while working to meet both your needs and the needs of your child and/or children, but it is important to set aside time for the activities that fill you up–you can’t pour from an empty cup!
- Connect with others–build your social support network. Supportive individuals, especially those who understand your circumstance and respect your familial goals, are key to providing both you and your child with reliable help and additional encouragement when needed.
- Recognize, and utilize, your strengths–learn to understand the best parts of you and how you can use them to serve both yourself and your family. This will help you be able to both give and be the best you that you can possibly be!
Taking care of your own mental health is one way to help ensure you’re being the best parent you can be for your children. While you may feel overwhelmed, at times, working to pursue your own mental health care and meet all of the demands of being a parent, there are some benefits associated with this particular experience–First, because most mental health issues have a genetic component, they oftentimes run in families. This means, at some point, your children may begin facing similar challenges as you in regard to their mental health. It can be helpful for children to know they are not alone in their struggles and have someone safe they trust to talk to. Second, if you are pursuing your own mental health care, you are setting a good example for your children to follow should they find someday they need additional support to manage their own mental health issues. Modeling in all aspects is important–especially in this way. Lastly, it reminds you that both you, and your children, are human. We all have things we struggle with and have to be mindful of–and it is important to be kind to ourselves.