Parents ask me, “How am I supposed to get it all done when my preschooler demands so much of my time?”
I can’t change your to-do list, but I can bust four parenting myths that might be stealing some of your energy. These few tips won’t shorten your to-do list, but they will free up some physical and emotional energy that you thought was lost forever.
4 Parenting Myths That Can Steal Your Energy:
Myth #1: You Must Immediately Explain All Answers in Great Detail
You don’t have to answer every question your child asks in great detail, all day long! Shocking, I know, but you don’t.
Try addressing questions age appropriately instead. You’d be amazed at how much energy you save.
Most parents of preschoolers think the way to increase their child’s intellect and language skills is by being verbose.
Consider the facts. A child’s brain is not like an adult’s brain, yet. It’s still developing. That means learning is happening through play, and the focus is on the emotional side of the brain. So age appropriate sound bytes are perfect for their level of understanding. You’ll know when your child is ready to absorb, and retain big concepts; you’ll see it in the lessons at school.
Myth #2: Intense Words and Punishment Stop the Complaining
Most parents think the best way to shut down complaining is to use stern reactions and punishment, but that’s exhausting!
Consider humor. Hubby had a unique way of busting our kids when they complained, and it worked every time! He’d say, “You know, when I was a boy, I had to walk 75 miles in the snow to get to school!” The kids would laugh or moan; they got it—no complaining.
Try silence. I’m not suggesting you ignore your child when they’re complaining. I’m suggesting you purposefully say nothing. Silence is one of the most powerful tools a parent has! Make sure to explain why you’ll be silent from now on when they complain. And ask them to think about what they’ve said as they wait for you to talk.
Myth #3: Oh, She Knows I Love Her
Think back to when you were little. Were there times when you made a mistake and wondered if your parent still loved you?
Your child knows you love her, but she needs to be told, out loud, as often as possible, especially after misbehaving. Saying I love you creates connections and connecting fills you with energy!
Myth #4: Following a Routine is Restricting to Both My Child and Me
Some parents fear that a routine forces a child to adopt an adult’s way of doing things, thereby forcing them into a rhythm that isn’t their own. Some parents also feel like a routine restricts their freedom.
The truth is your freedom to come and go as you please was altered the day you gave birth. Another truth is a routine sends physical clues that your child count son when they feel out of control due to development.
Two year olds are a good example of this. 2’s usually insist they use the same cup and plate each day, or they cry. When 2’s see their ‘special’ plate they realize it must be time to eat. Not having to deal with a two yr. old tantrum will absolutely save you energy.
You Might Also Be Making Some Other Mistakes That Reduce Your Energy
In addition to falling for the myths above, there are a lot of other factors that might contribute to you feeling tired all the time as a parent. For example, according to The Week, if you are a pretty introverted person, but your child is an extrovert, that alone can be somewhat exhausting!
Also, by recognizing some of the common mistakes that a lot of parents make, you might begin to see areas of your life where you are depleting your energy for no good reason. To see what we mean, check out our list of some of the errors that parents make, only to find that they feel really tired all the time. If you want to avoid the fatigue, and you find yourself making the following mistakes, consider changing your ways.
- Thinking that you need to do everything by yourself, without asking for help or support – The truth is that, yes, you have a lot of responsibilities as a parent, and you took those responsibilities on when you became a parent. But, that does not mean that you have to torture yourself. You have every right to seek out help and support whenever you need it, and especially when you are feeling as though you are running on empty.
Asking for support might mean calling in a babysitter so that you can take the night off. Or, it might mean letting the grandparents have the kids for the weekend. And, it might mean having a chat with your partner so you can talk about ways that you can divide the to-do list between each other to get more done in less time.
Remember, the goal is to feel less tired all the time. And, the bottom line is that you should get help, and you should take some time for yourself so that you can recharge. You will be a better, and more effective, parent by doing so.
- Take a few moments to recognize the positive things in your life – When you are feeling really frazzled and fatigued, you might find that your mind remains in a very negative place. That is certainly not good for you, and it definitely is not good for your family either.
So, whenever you can, take a few moments to take note of the positive things in your life. How are your children excelling? What are some of the positive things that they have done lately that have made you proud? What else do you have to be grateful for, outside of being a parent? Perhaps you want to recognize the support that your own parents provide to you, or the love that your partner shows to you.
Even if you just take a mental note of these blessings, it might be enough to change your mindset. Otherwise, you might want to take a few minutes to sit down with a journal and write down what you are grateful for so you can see it in writing. This can help put things back into perspective, and when you are feeling tired and negative, this strategy might help you feel a little more energized too.
- Failing to take care of your body by not eating right and not exercising – Sure, you have a lot of things to do all day every day, but that doesn’t mean that you should let your diet and exercise routine suffer. Keep making it a point to eat right, as the appropriate diet can do wonders for your energy.
If you are constantly consuming unhealthy snacks, or foods and beverages that give you energy for a short span of time before causing you to crash, you will end up feeling too tired overall to even think about exercising to keep your body in shape and your mind in a healthy state.
Snack on nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. When you prepare meals for yourself and your kids, make them healthy and nutritious. Remember: a balanced meal can help you all feel energized enough to take on the day with your kids.
Also, set aside some time to exercise. Again, ask for help from others if you need to do so. Or, exercise while your kids are playing. Perhaps even let your kids exercise with you so that you can instill these values in them at the same time, and teach them the value of being physically active for their weight and overall health.
What you should realize before long is that exercising can help you get better sleep at night, which can help you wake up feeling refreshed. Plus, if you exercise earlier in the day, it can also give you a burst of energy that you can use to take great care of your family.
With the Right Strategy, You Can Maintain the Energy Necessary to Be a Great Parent!
Now that you know a few of the myths and mistakes that can get in the way of your ability to maintain your energy as a parent, you can make some changes to your daily lifestyle in order to improve. Keep in mind that, when you take care of yourself, you can take better care of your entire family, so don’t feel guilty at all about taking the time that’s necessary to find your center and balance your life again. You won’t regret it, and your energy level will benefit from your efforts.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sharon Silver is a parenting educator and the founder of Proactive Parenting. She’s also the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be.