Parenting is hard. Actually no, forget that. Life is hard. More specifically juggling life as a parent is hard.
One day you might feel like you’re in perfect control of everything. The next, you might be drowning (metaphorically speaking) under a pile of jobs, bills, expectations and general everyday pressures.
I’m no stranger to this. There are always things going on at work and at home to juggle. My family expect certain things of me, as does my boss. I have responsibilities towards my team at work and my children. There are bills to pay and tasks to get done all the time.
It can be easy to let everything pile on top of you. I’ve done it myself before now. It’s why it’s so important we all have coping strategies to stop us from completely losing our sh*t. If we don’t, we run the risk of letting stress get serious.
I’ve written before about how to be kind to your body and mind. That post talked about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and gave some general tips, but sometimes you need a bit more than that to stay on top of everything going on in your life.
I asked some very nice bloggers what they do to unwind when life starts getting a little too hard. Here are their answers (as well as some of mine), which I hope will help you keep your cool on those hard days.
How to stay calm when life feels hard.
Start your day with some ‘me time’.
One thing that helps get my days off to a good start is some quiet ‘me time’ in the mornings. Whether I’m getting ready for a hard day at work or preparing for a full day of parenting, it helps get my mind and mood in the right place for the day ahead.
I’m not saying you need to start getting up a full hour earlier than normal, but just ten minutes to yourself can help to make a difference.
We all have to-do lists – they seem to be a never-ending part of life – but do you write them down? Keeping a mental list of things you need to accomplish is a sure-fire way of feeling overwhelmed.
Instead, write those lists down on paper. Work out what you want to achieve that month and then break those tasks down by week and then by day. You’ll likely find jobs become much more manageable in your mind that way.
Deborah over at Country Heart and Home recommends keeping a bullet journal: “I write in [it] when things start to feel a little too much,” she says. “I make lists so that I can work through them. Once its written down it never seems as much as it was floating around in my head.”
Get a hobby.
If you’re struggling with keeping on top of things, why not try taking some time out and indulging your creative side?
“I find being creative and having a hobby gives me some escapism when things get a little overwhelming,” says Wild Lived blogger, Tracey. “Being a full time carer and home educator means I don’t get lots of time to myself so I find crafts and creative persuits that I can stop and start.”
Adult colouring books have become a ‘thing’ in the last few years, but you could try anything that takes your fancy and keeps your mind off the day-to-day stuff that’s weighing you down.
Listen to some ‘happy music’.
I don’t know what it is about music, but it can have a profound effect on our mood. We all have songs that make us happy, sad, thoughtful etc.
For me, there’s nothing better to get me into a good mood than some of my favourite upbeat songs. If I’m feeling down or under pressure, I have a go-to playlist I put on, sing along to and feel instantly better.
Nyomi from Nomipalony agrees about the power of music: “When things get a bit much…we’ll have a big sing and dance and that usually makes me feel more able to take on the world.”
Up your time management game.
It can sometimes feel like you need more hours in the day to get things done, but that’s not always the case. Check out my time management tips for working parents to help you manage your home life like a boss.
Practice mindfulness techniques.
There are apps that you can download to help you or you can take yourself to a quiet room where you can focus on your breathing and practice ’emptying out’ your mind.
It’s something that Mummy B blogger, Kay and her family does to unwind: “I use the calm app and do a little bit of guided meditation. They do children guided meditation so sometimes we do it all together when things are getting a bit tough.”
If you’re looking for ways to encourage mindfulness in your children, Scope’s new Mindful Monsters cards are a good option to explore too.
Make plans with a friend.
Blogger, Emma Reed, says making plans with a friend helps her stay sane because it gives her “something to look forward to.”
Relationships are important for our mental wellbeing. Talking to others can also help to put things into perspective and help us feel better. Remember the old adage, ‘two heads are better than one’.
Find your online tribe.
While there’s nothing better than talking to actual real people in actual real life, sometimes it’s not always possible. If you’re finding things difficult and don’t have anyone readily available, a chat with online friends may help.
“Sometimes I check social media for other parents’ posts and reassurance that I’m not the only one having a rough day,” says Kim from Raising a Ragamuffin blog.
Get some fresh air.
Exercise can help you feel calmer and happier so make time to get outside. Donna (AKA Bobsy’s Mum), says that as well as helping her feel better, it also has a positive effect on her children: “Whenever I’m getting annoyed or struggling, I force myself to take [the kids] somewhere. I find generally [they] behave much better when we’re out.”
Being active also has the added benefit of lowering your risk of a number of health conditions like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. If that isn’t an incentive to get your trainers on and get walking, I don’t know what is!
Schedule some pamper time.
When life feels like it’s getting on top of you, take some time out. Katy, who writes the Katy Kicker blog, says one of her tactics is to regularly treat herself to a long shower or face mask.
“For those few minutes each day I relax, take time to look after my own needs and this helps me stay calm and stops [me] from feeling like I’m unsuccessfully spinning all the plates,” Katy explains.
Similarly, Modern Mum blogger Kate’s go-to retreat is a long, hot bubble bath. She says, “I put [the kids] to bed, run a nice deep bath with a couple of drops of essential oils, a cup of tea or a glass of wine and soak for as long as I can.”
Get plenty of sleep.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything going on in your life, being tired is not going to help shake that off. Read my tips for a good night’s sleep if you’re having trouble nodding off.
Get others involved.
Remember that you don’t have to struggle on your own. Sometimes, even small things can help to make a difference so don’t be afraid to ask for help from your partner, wider family or others.
“I’m lucky that my other half can see when it’s getting too much sometimes,” says JakiJellz blogger, Jaki. “He takes little Man off and gives me time to myself. He knows I need this to keep sane!”
Meanwhile, Lianne from Mrs Mummy Harris says sharing the ‘night shift’ with her husband is what helps her feel better: “Me and hubby take turns in doing the nights…this means at the weekends each of us get one day to lay in or just chill whilst the other gets up with Ben, does breakfast and watches Peppa on repeat. It’s amazing how much better it is knowing it’s not your turn to wake up in the night!”
What do you do to help you keep calm when parenting and life gets hard?