It's important to look after yourself as well as your children.
It's important to look after yourself as well as your children. Being a parent isn’t always easy. It can feel hard if you're tired, stressed and unhappy.
Being a parent is the most wonderful and possibly the most difficult role you will have. It isn’t always easy and sometimes it can prove challenging. Remember nobody is perfect and nobody gets it right all the time.
Looking after a child can be hard work. Most parents feel negative emotions from time to time. These feelings are normal. It is important to manage feelings like anger and frustration so you can enjoy being a parent and have a safe, happy home for your child. Stressed parents are more likely to shout or use harsh punishments like smacking.
Try to set aside time for yourself
If you get a break to relax then you are more likely to be able to cope with everything. Take 10 minutes to have a bath, read a magazine or talk to a friend. Don’t spend time feeling guilty about the jobs that “should be done” when your child is asleep. Use some of this time to relax and do something you enjoy.
Try to eat well. This can be difficult for busy parents but the Change4Life (External link) has lots of ideas for simple and quick recipes and tips to stay fit and healthy.
Get together with other parents and their children
Your child will enjoy the company of another child and you will enjoy some adult conversation. There may be groups in your area where you can meet other parents and where your child will have some fun. Your Family Information Service will be able to tell you what’s on in your area. You can contact them by telephone on 0300 123 7777. The Family Point website (External link) also has information on services and activities in your area.
Most parents have times when they feel tested to their limits. Sometimes parents have trouble controlling their emotions and reactions. They may feel stressed about personal, medical or financial problems.
Learning to manage your anger will be beneficial to your health and your relationship with your child. If you lose your temper and lash out in anger you may hurt your child, even if you don’t mean to.
Try to get to know your own body’s signals for when anger is building up. Act before it gets out of control. These might be:
If you feel anger getting the better of you it may help to:
Stop and count to 10 before you act. That 10 seconds may help you calm your emotions.
Try to breathe out the tension. Try to breathe out longer than your breathe in. Anger can make you breathe in more than out.
Take some time out. Leave the room briefly, phone a friend, play your favourite music. Ask a friend or family member to care for your baby or child for a while so you can have time to yourself.
Work it off. Exercise can help you deal with stress-related anger. Try swimming, walking, running or yoga. You can put your child in their push chair and go for a walk to let off steam.
Ask yourself "Is it really worth getting angry about?". Is it about what your child has done or is it about feeling stressed?
Think it through. Are there some things that wind you up more than others? Are there ways of avoiding those situations?
Try not to bottle things up. It may help to talk it over with a friend or family. Or talk to other parents – it can be helpful to share experiences and tips.
Think whether there are some underlying feelings making you angry. If you feel angry in spite of everything you have tried, it may be worth getting some advice. It may help talking it through with a counsellor or getting some advice on managing your anger. You could speak with your GP about this or talk to the Family Information Service for services in your area. Alternatively you may find these helplines useful:
- C.A.L.L. Helpline (External link) 0800 132 737 (24 hour service) - Community Advice and Listening Line - (or text ‘help’ to text 81066). This is a confidential helpline which offers emotional support on mental health and related matters.
- Samaritans (External link) on 08457 90 90 90 (confidential 24 hour service), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can get in touch about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how large or small the issue.
If you feel like you might hurt your child, ask for help from your health visitor or GP. By getting help, you will be doing the best thing for your child, your family and yourself.
It’s OK to ask for help.
Nobody gets it right all the time. It may help to talk things over with family or friends. If you are worried about feeling stressed, low or depressed talk with your health visitor or GP. Don’t be too critical of yourself. There is no such thing as the perfect Mum or perfect Dad.
If you are worried about feeling stressed, low or depressed talk with your health visitor or GP.