As I turn the aisle in the grocery store, I see you, sweet Momma. Your face is drawn and tired as one child is crying out of exhaustion from a busy day of errands, while the other (carefully placed in the cart to minimize destructive behavior while shopping) begins to pull things off the shelf, waving them in your face before dropping them into the cart.
We’ve all been in your shoes, about two seconds away from a total meltdown.
The truth is that many parents around the world are living at a pace that is unsustainable. We are cramming way too much into our already short days, and our families are paying the price from the added stress.
The SCAN organization (2020) writes, “Every family reacts different to stress, but some of the most common effects include:
- Arguments, fighting and other poor communication skills.
- Fatigue, health problems and general exhaustion because of busy schedules.
- Confusion (especially in children) about relationships with other family members.
- More dependence on food, alcohol and other substances.”
So, what can we do to alleviate the stress our families are experiencing? Here are 5 key strategies to help battle the harmful effects of stress on your family.
5 Key Strategies to Battle the Harmful Effects of Stress on Your Family
In an age where the number of extracurriculars your child is involved in is as competitive among parents as what college they attend, take a step back. You might be surprised to find that your child would rather spend the weekend fishing at the pond than spending every waking moment at the ball field. Taking a look at the big picture is important. While sports and other activities can teach children many beneficial life skills, so can the art of learning to manage stress in healthy ways while they are young.
Remember that you set the tone.
If you are frazzled and stressed, your family will follow suit. Be sure that you are taking the time to make yourself the vessel of peace from which your family can draw from.
Be financially savvy.
Financial stress can cause huge problems within the family. Your child will most likely get just as much enjoyment from the cheaper local sports team than from the expensive travel team, as well as more time to invest in other adventures, rather than traveling every single weekend.
On a related note, financially, I find that taking the entire family with me to the grocery store is exhausting, stressful, and I spend more due to those small split-second decisions I make to keep the peace in the name of finishing shopping. I utilize grocery delivery heavily right now. When we do go into a store, it is only for a few things, meaning less stress and less mindless spending. Our financials have improved, and that was one stressful thing OFF my plate.
Let your family help.
I’ll repeat that. For the love of all things, let your family help. One hurdle many parents face is the stress of trying to make everything “perfect” on their own. I implore you to let that go. By letting your children become invested in keeping the household running and stress-free, they are learning important life skills that will translate over into their own families someday.
Each of my children has age-appropriate chores and responsibilities. No, our towels aren’t always folded perfectly, but we have all gained more stress-free time in return because the important tasks that keep the house running are completed in a timely manner, meaning we all have more time to enjoy the benefits that come from having mom be less stressed.
Finally, reach out!
Being able to talk to others about the stress you are experiencing can go far in minimizing its damaging effects. The Lily-Jo Project has a group on Facebook geared towards providing parents and those that work with youth with resources and tips. I moderate the group, and we would love to have you. You can join here.
I, along with many others I know, feel as if I have spent years learning to properly manage my stress. I spent years dealing with various health problems that were simply from unmanaged stress. Learning to delegate, prioritize, communicate needs and feelings effectively, and simply let go of the need for life to be perfectly scripted has greatly improved my health.
A favorite catchphrase that I pull inspiration from frequently is that I need to “pull an Elsa” and just “let it go.” Try that out this month and see how much better you feel!
SCAN. (2020). Family stress. Retrieved from https://www.scanva.org/support-for-parents/parent-resource-center-2/family-stress/#:~:text=Every%20family%20reacts%20different%20to,relationships%20with%20other%20family%20members
About the Author
Brandy Browne is an early childhood educator in the United States, as well as a family coach and blogger for UnStuck (www.unstucks.com), her family coaching service aimed at helping families develop positive habits and breaking the cycle of generational trauma and poverty.
Her education is in early and elementary education, and she also has a masters degree in parenting and child/adolescent development. Brandy is a wife to her high school sweetheart of fifteen years, and together they share three children, aged ten, seven, and five. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, writing, and distance running.