Bush: Prevent parenting stress

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Words are powerful tools in our everyday life.  When you think of putting three powerful words together you may think: "I love you." "I forgive you." "I am sorry."  But the following is a list of more three-word tips that could be powerful in your parenting.  Consider these to help alleviate daily parenting stress.

1. Write it down. I don't know how anyone survives without a calendar, either written or on their phones.  Dates and times for doctor appointments, when library books are due, scheduled oil changes, children's ballgames and/or recitals… write them ALL down!

2. Get up earlier. Complete as many tasks as you can the night before.  If you still notice your family running late for school or barely making it to work on time, you might need to set the alarm earlier and allow extra time for everybody to get moving and ready.

3. Do nothing sometimes. Put yourself in a timeout.  Take time to just "be"- and then don't feel guilty about it. What's thirty more minutes of dirty laundry while you watch the ending of a movie on TV, relax in a warm bath, or finish a chapter of a good book?

4. Learn to delegate. Assign age-appropriate tasks to others in the house, and then accept imperfections when they don't compromise your family's health or well-being. The towels might not be folded exactly as you would have folded them yourself, but exhale and be thankful that you don't have to fold tonight.

5. Focus on today. Don't spend your todays worrying about things that might or might not happen tomorrow. Enjoy the beauty (and occasional chaos) that surrounds you in the here and now, trusting that you will find the energy and the wisdom to tackle tomorrow's issues when they arrive.

6. Make weekends count. Leave time for relaxation and unscheduled time. This allows you to wind-down after your busy, fast-paced weeks. Don't overbook yourselves and your children. Find the balance between activities and downtime.

7. Speak positive words. Remind yourself that you are a good parent, a good person, that you love your family, and that your family loves you. Stay away from self-insults and "I can't" conversations with yourself. These only bring you down.

8. Do for others. Find someone who could use your assistance. Collect items to donate to a family in need or visit a family friend in the nursing home. Sometimes looking at other people's situations can make us feel more appreciative of what we have.

9. Talk about it. Keep a circle of trusted friends close by. Talking things out can make us feel better. Even if no "solution" is reached, sometimes it's just good to open up and share your feelings. Good friends can usually get us to laugh about something even when the situation looks dark.

10. Move around more. Exercise relieves stress, and it helps to fight off conditions that could cause us more stress if they enter our lives. A brisk 20-minute walk with a friend- or with your favorite music- can help erase some of the day's stress and help us be healthier.

11. Get it fixed. Anything that is a "ticking time bomb"- like a tire that is going bad or a leak in your bathroom- needs attention before it becomes a major problem. It reduces stress to address problems now instead of waiting until they become more expensive and more time consuming issues.

12. Do it now! Procrastination causes stress. If you can take care of something now and check it off the list, do it! Seeing a to-do list with items checked off gives us a sense of accomplishment and confirms that we are on the road to taking care of business.  

For more information about parenting contact your UT Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Carla Y. Bush at cybush@utk.edu or go to our website at utextension.tennessee.edu/cannon

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Carla Bush
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