By Lillian Soloweszyk, LMSW
In the words of Dr. Seuss, “life’s a great balancing act,” and maybe no one knows that better than working parents. Between job responsibilities, caring for the needs of children and keeping up with a household, there can be limited time left for self-care and relaxation. Here are some tried and true tips to help reduce your stress as a working parent:
- Define your core values and set priorities. We all have some image in our mind of what the ideal parent or household should look like, but in actuality that expectation sets us up for increased stress and anxiety. Take some time to decide what is most important to you in life (your values) and prioritize your limited time based on that. For example, if you value family more than a pristine house – spend more quality time with your loved ones and let the housecleaning fall to the back of the line.
- Set Boundaries between work and family. With an increased shift to telework, it can hard to determine when you are actually not “at work.” Make a dividing line in your day between when your workday ends and family time begins. Resist the urge to check your work emails; turn off your computer and be present with your family.
- Make preparations and set expectations. When you’re a working parent, the day can start early and with a ton of activity. Making lists, schedules, and routines (for morning and bedtime!) can be a huge stress relief. Any tasks that can done in advance helps also, such as laying clothes out the night before or making dinners for the week on a Sunday night. Also, most shopping, including groceries, can be done online, so let’s reclaim some of that time in your day!
- Put yourself first. Taking time to care for yourself ensures that you are the best parent you can be. Whether you take time to meditate, exercise, enjoy a warm bath or a good nap – however you relax and reset should be an important part of your daily routine. You don’t really have to move a muscle to reduce stress: find a calming mantra or image, take deep breaths and remember to focus on the positive things in life.
Remember, as a working parent you are already teaching your children time management, decision making, and a good work ethic. By taking time for yourself, you are also teaching them how to handle stress in a healthy way and ultimately be happier people.
Lillian Soloweszyk, LMSW, is a therapist at Jewish Community Services.
Jewish Community Services (JCS) is dedicated to providing programs and services that help people of all ages and backgrounds achieve their goals and enhance their wellbeing.
To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or 410-466-9200.