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Parenthood is a roller coaster, but there are steps you can take to stay on top of things. Read our tips to reduce stress and enjoy time with your child
Find time for yourself
If you struggle to get time to yourself, you need to make a conscious effort to book it in. ‘No one will gift mums time, except maybe on Mother’s Day, so it’s up to mums to regularly book in “me time” on the family calendar,’ says Erin Kurt, a parenting expert and creator of the online parenting programme How To Get Your Child To Listen. It could be a couple of hours for a Saturday lie-in and a bath while your partner takes the toddler to the swimming pool, or an evening out with your girlfriends for cocktails. Don’t feel guilty about this because anything that makes you happier will ultimately make you less stressed around your kids, which can only be a good thing.
Avoid toddler tantrums
The lip is wobbling, the foot has been stamped and a meltdown is imminent, if it hasn’t already begun. But if you want to nip a tantrum in the bud, it’s about choice. ‘Take a few deep breaths and say, ‘You can continue screaming by yourself, or you can stop and have mummy time again,’ says Kurt. ‘Finish with, “What is your choice?” You want the choice to come from the child.’ If you don’t give your little one an audience for a tantrum, they tend to calm down a lot quicker.
Is your morning a mad rush of burnt toast, lost shoes and missing keys? Apologies if we sound like your own mother, but you can ease this by getting organised the night before. Once your children are in bed, write a list of tasks that slow you down in the morning. Then work out what you can do the night before. For example, you need to do your make-up in the morning, but you can wash your hair before you go to bed. Lay out clothes and pack bags in advance. Write a checklist of any important things you need to remember, and leave it in a visible place by the door.
Switch off from work
Compartmentalise your life as much as you can. When you’re at work, make an effort to be mentally at work. When you’re at home, embrace the craziness of parenthood. You may find that being a parent makes you twice as productive as your non-parent colleagues (motherhood has a habit of improving your multitasking abilities). Make the most of it by staying focused at work but leaving it at the door once you get home. That way you can focus and enjoy your family life, too.
Boost your self-esteem
Recognise your strengths, and don’t compare yourself to other mothers. Everyone has their own special talent so celebrate it. Are you crafty and good at making your baby’s nursery look beautiful? Are you a wonderful story reader? A great baker? Do you love playing games or sports with your kids? ‘We can’t be good at everything, so focus on what you’re really good at and don’t sweat the other stuff you may not exactly excel at,’ says Kurt. ‘If you stop putting pressure on yourself and just do what you’re naturally great at, your kids will love you for it.’
By Hannah Fox