Watch: “Parents deserve self-care” – Mandy Deguara, family therapist

Ten tips for stressed parents.

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

In this fast-paced life, stress is a constant presence. Stress from work, from home, from other family members, from friends, from Covid-19 worries – it seems to be everywhere.

Parents have the added ‘bonus’ of not only being responsible for themselves, but also of one or more other mini-people. And in corona-times, this has been amplified. Do I send my children to school? Will online learning set them back academically? Should they visit their grandparents? Is hugging their cousins a good idea? What about extra-curricular activities? Will their emotional growth be stunted because of social distancing? So many questions which pile up and up… it can be overwhelming.

So what can parents do to de-stress, especially in these trying, unprecedented times?

We must focus on ourselves and validate our emotions as parents… we cannot pour from an empty cup

Ahead of World Mental Health Day on the 10th October, spoke to family therapist Mandy Deguara who said that it is important for parents to find time for themselves and do things they enjoy – but not to feel guilty about it.

“We must focus on ourselves and validate our emotions as parents… as we are dealing with a lot right now,” she says, “Guilt might take over sometime but taking care of ourselves helps us to replenish and be more energised.”

Here are Mandy’s top ten tips for stressed parents:

1. Acknowledge and validate your emotions

During these times of uncertainty and stress it is natural to experience anxiety and stress. Sit with your emotions, process them and reflect about what can support you in this process. it can help us to contain our children and attend to their needs. 

2. You deserve self-care! 

Practice and schedules self-care on a daily basis it helps you to unwind and organize your thoughts. Do more of what makes you happy! A few minutes can go a long way. A cup of tea, listening to your favourite music, breathing exercises, meditations, practicing a hobby. Take your pick, options are endless. After all we cannot pour from an empty cup. It is important not to feel guilty about it – we need self-care as it can help us replenish. 

3. Be true to yourself – trust in your decisions and abilities

Identify what you are doing right as a parent and  trust in your decisions as parent. You know what what is best for the well-being of your family

4. Plan ahead

Plan with realistic expectations. A basic structure can help you and your children feel contained and keep track throughout the day. Do not panic when the plan does not succeed. A pinch of flexibility can help. At times we choose to prioritise our well-being and that of our children over a house chore and that’s ok.

5. Fun, fun, fun! Do things that make you and your child happy

Enjoy the moment and let the happy moments sink in. Improvise, be spontaneous and play. Speak their language- we can unwind and have fun during this process too. We can get in touch with our child within while appreciate the children’s innocence and playfulness. Dance, act silly, dress up, play pretend, involve them throughout the day. 

6. When required change the environment

When dynamics indoors just seem not working, change scenario, go outside. The great outdoors can do magic – in nature, go for a walk, at the beach, at the countryside. Outdoor activities can help you and your family ground yourself and brush off negativity.

7. Hugs are free!

In these changing and uncertain times you can still offer stability. Sharing hugs and affection with your child can help you both to de-stress  and give them a sense of belonging and safety. 

8. You are not alone in this. Establish a safe network

People you connect with and feel safe enough to vent out, reach out for support and have a good laugh with when needed – such as partner, family and friends. 

9. If you have a ‘no day’ it’s ok! You can try again tomorrow.

These things happen – children and us adults can have a ‘no day’. Reassure yourself that you can try again tomorrow and there will be better days. 

10. It is ok to ask for help

There is no shame in asking for help. You can take the opportunity to catch your breath and slow down. 

What do you think of these tips? Do they help you to de-stress?

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