3 ways parents can recharge with and without their kids
Being a parent in today’s modern age is no walk in the park. First you have the basic responsibilities that come with caring for another human being – balancing food and sleep schedules, changing diapers, then learning how to discipline and set boundaries for them. Add to the mix technology and a hectic work schedule, and you have a recipe for stress and chaos in the home.
Although life will always be hectic, taking the time to partake in more stress-reducing activities will make you a better parent to your kids. One study shows parents who are significantly stressed through the early years of their child’s development can lead to genetic alteration, which can even cause negative effects on development and other issues in later years. This is the study of epigenetics, changes in gene expression that don’t affect the underlying DNA sequence, but are nonetheless heritable and active, and affect how cells respond to those genes. If you grew up in a chaotic, argumentative household, you can probably admit that you had to deal with some of those scars later on in life – or are still dealing with them now.
Here are three ways to ease the stress in your household:
1. Decrease technology
No matter how hard your kids whine for some computer or iPad time, keep it at a bare minimum. Instead, take them outside to play at parks, the backyard or indoors on a rainy day – building forts or playing games. Before technology, kids could be kids, and could connect, create and learn along the way.
This also holds true for parents. Designating technology-free times, such as after six p.m. and before nine a.m. or on weekends, will greatly decease stress from work emails and will allow you to connect with your kids in a more authentic way. The more they see you detached from your devices, the more they will pick up that healthy habit.
2. Ask for help
In the past, people relied more on their communities to help raise their kids. This still happens in other cultures around the world today.
“Tens of thousands of years ago, all living was communal,” according to The Atlantic’s article, “The Hot New Millennial Housing Trend Is a Repeat of the Middle Ages.” It explains, “One of cohousing’s biggest draws is that it eases the burdens of child-rearing. It takes a village to raise a child, as the saying goes, and most modern-day parents could use the help.”
We’re not saying you need to sell your house and join a commune; but electing a couple of friends or family to trade or help with child-rearing duties will give you the sanity you need. With their assistance, you’ll have the time to recharge on your own, enjoy nights out and take some much-needed time to yourself.
3. Pick and choose your commitments
Although your child may want to be in soccer, karate and ballet, it’s important to set boundaries – for you and your family’s sanity. Don’t overcommit to parties and events, and ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this? What will it bring me?” before committing to anything. This will free up your time, so you can spend more of it at home, recharging and spending quality time with your family.
And of course, picking up healthy habits for yourself such as meditation, yoga, running, painting or other creative and mindful practices will help keep you grounded and sane. Kids are wise beings and sponges; they pick up on everything, including your stress. Create a better environment for both yourself and for them, so they have a healthy mental state throughout the rest of their lives.