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Managing Parenting Stress

Do parents ever really get to relax? If you’re like me, you spend your time running from one commitment to the next, juggling schedules just to keep your head above water, and wondering when your me-time will appear. Parental recreation is an important and necessary part of our lives, and should be scheduled as such.

We start our days with one virtual bucket filled with emotional energy. Once we’ve expended that energy, we have nothing left to give. That’s a sad place to be, though we’ve all been there. Giving, in and of itself, is a fulfilling and energizing act, but as parents, we tend to give far more than we receive, and we tend to rejuvenate far less than is necessary. It’s essential that we take the time to rejuvenate that emotional bucket of energy on a regular basis.

With six kids, a writing career and social networking, there is little time for rejuvenation.

Here are a few tips to help you refill your emotional bucket:

1. Recognize the importance of me-time.
Depleting your emotional energy can be more debilitating than taking 10 minutes to yourself to rejuvenate your spirit. Without energy, your body becomes weighed down with fatigue, fatigue can lead to aches and pains, followed by depression. Resentment is not far behind. That emotional and mental state can make it very difficult to give to and do for others, such as your family.

Many of us have a tendency to feel guilty about taking time for ourselves. Our fast-paced society has created the image of Super Mom, and it’s one that we strive to meet. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a woman who works outside the home, the pressure to be ‘on’ is ever-present. Recognize the importance of a little me-time. If you value it, others will accept and follow.

2. Schedule your me-time.
Does scheduling your rejuvenation time make it more stressful? Absolutely not. Knowing that you have built in a few minutes each morning and afternoon for yourself will have the opposite effect. You’ll find yourself looking forward to it, protective of it and even craving it.

Just as you make time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, take your kids to school, help with homework and many other daily activities, schedule 10 minutes mid-morning and 15 minutes late afternoon just for you. You can spend that time chatting with a friend, reading a book or, my favorite, taking a walk. You should fill that time doing whatever makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be an activity - watch television, dance, lie down. You’ll be surprised how a short break that is all about you can make giving back a welcomed and enjoyable activity, even when you’ve been doing it all day long.

3. Appreciate the time that you have.
If you are new to rejuvenating your emotional bucket, then you might find yourself falling into the pitfall that many newbie me-timers fall into, the I-Want-More syndrome. We all do it. After the guilt dissipates and we’ve accepted that it’s really okay to take some time for ourselves, then it’s easy to want more time. That’s natural. Sometimes, it’s even possible, but for those times that it’s not, value and appreciate the time that you’ve taken. Reflect on the days when you didn’t take short breaks, and recognize the gift that you’ve given yourself (and your family) with your me-time breaks.

Creating balance between family, work and your own desires can be a difficult process, riddled with guilt and pent-up frustration. Calming your chaos with daily me-time breaks should help ease your mind and body, and rejuvenate your spirit, allowing the balance to be found. Calm your chaos - your family will thank you.

Melissa is the award-winning author of three novels, Megan’s Way, Chasing Amanda, and Come Back to Me. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, and WoMen's Literary Cafe. Melissa is currently collaborating in the film production of Megan’s Way. She hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, and is currently working on her next novel. Melissa and her husband have six children. Visit Melissa on her website,


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