There is no denying it. Parenting. Is. Hard.
My wife and I have split working and caregiving duties at various times, so we both gained a healthy respect for the challenges and blessings of both sides.
Working is difficult because you miss the kids, but you often get socialization and adult conversations throughout the day.
Staying home is rewarding for the closeness that develops between parent and child, but there is very little rest and you start to wonder whether your conversational ability is going to be stuck at a 3 year old level forever.
It’s so difficult to get that perfect balance of family, work, social, and personal life that lead to feeling fulfilled and happy.
But people have been raising kids successfully for thousands of years, why is it so hard for me?
I’m not saying parenting was easier for earlier generations, but they had different challenges than we have today.
For one, our parents and grandparents weren’t able to compare their parenting experience with as many other people.
There was no Facebook, or Instagram to make them wonder why everybody else is going to Disney World while they backyard camped to save money.
With social media you begin to compare your daily life with everybody else’s highlight reel!
I’m guessing you don’t post every struggle with your child, but focus on posting the fun, happy, extreme events that will make others jealous.
Yeah? So remember that when you see a former high school classmate posting her amazing Pinterest creation while your ladybug cake looks more like a deformed cockroach.
You don’t post your failures, and neither do your friends.
This is an area where a good parenting group can be so helpful.
I say “good” because it needs to be a safe place where people share their failures and help each other to recognize that we all struggle, and well have failures, and we all have some really cute moments as well.
A group where everybody puts on their happy face and denies any challenges and talks about how their kids are all perfect little angels… GET THE HECK OUT OF THERE, IMMEDIATELY!
That is The Stepford Wives and not real life!
Keeping to yourself
This goes hand in hand with my recommendation for finding a parenting group.
There are times when I’m watching the girls that I feel like a complete failure.
I wonder why there wasn’t a test required before becoming a parent… and then I’m thankful there wasn’t because I might have failed!
It’s impossible to be good at everything, which means we’re all going to screw up eventually.
We’re going to have days we don’t want to get out of bed, or that we snap at our kids for no apparent reason.
When we keep these feelings to ourselves, we can continue to live in a world where outwardly we are perfect and content, while inwardly we are fighting to stay afloat.
We end up stuck on a lonely island where we can never get validation from others that these feelings are normal.
Having someone you can open up to and share your thoughts with, who won’t just try to solve your problems or dismiss your concerns, is crucial. It can be your mother, your best friend, a therapist, or even a stranger on the internet (e.g., www.reddit.com/r/parenting, www.reddit.com/anxiety ).
I assure you, if you’re thinking or feeling something, there is a 99% likelihood someone else has felt the same way.
It doesn’t seem like much, but just hearing “I’ve been there” can lift a huge weight off your shoulders.
Even when it seems like there is no solution to your challenges, think about finding someone to share with.
What do we do about our parenting struggles?
There is no one size fits all solution to the challenges of raising a successful, happy family.
Nor can we wave a magic wand and make your stress, worry, or anxiety disappear overnight.
I wish I could, truly I do. There are small changes you can make today to start moving in the direction of feeling joy again though!
- Cut back on social media - Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. can all be great resources for keeping in touch with old friends, or finding activities and recipes. They can also suck the life right out of you if you’re not careful! Figure out how much time you really want to spend on these sites, and think about blocking any people who are adding negativity to your life.
- Adjust your expectations - Remember that while people aren’t posting their failures on your social media feeds, they are screwing up just as often as you. Let yourself be okay with screwing up now and then. The problem isn’t usually with the mistake, it’s how the mistake grabs onto your focus and leads to stress, worry, anxiety, and depression.
- Use a gratitude journal - Writing down 3 things you are thankful for each day helps you to remember that the day wasn’t all bad. Find very specific things you have to be grateful for and it lessens the impact of those mistakes you’ve made. Over time, this can make it easier for you to recognize the good things as you go about your day!
- Identify and use your support system - I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. Make a list of the people in your life and start reconnecting with those who you miss, or that you would like to spend more time with. If you don’t feel your list of family, friends, or acquaintances will care about your struggles, a) you don’t know unless you’ve tried already, and b) it’s okay to find new sources of support. Use the resources I mentioned earlier to get connected with other parents to hear their struggles and you can share yours once you feel comfortable.
If you feel like you've tried these suggestions and more and it still wasn't enough, please consider reaching out for a free consultation. We can discuss your specific situation, and help make a plan for getting you to your goals. As always, I'd love to hear from you, so please reach out if you have any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-469-3008.