Children are like the barometer of family tension. If your kids are irritable and frustrated, no doubt you have been irritable and frustrated. If your kids have been speaking rudely, sure as eggs you’ve been stressed and shouting. Parents set the mood of the household, and for this reason, I believe it’s paramount that as a parent, you are taking care of yourself. Here are my top 10 tips for parents on how to take care of yourself so that you’re least likely to “flip your lid”.
1. Eat Regularly – hunger is certainly a trigger to “flip your lid”. Try to ensure eating six small meals per day, and don’t go longer than 3 hours without eating something.
2. Eat the Right Foods – the old adage “fresh is best” certainly applies here. Try to minimise foods high in additives such as preservatives, artificial colours and MSG. Additives can affect parent behaviour and moods just as much as it can affect children’s behaviour and moods. There are also naturally occurring chemicals in foods such as Amines and Salicylites that can cause similar behavioural reactions to food colouring. For more information on this topic check out this popular website: fedup.com.au
3. Get Enough Sleep – being over-tired can cause parents (and children) to “flip your lid”. Ensure you get plenty of rest and sleep.
4. Reduce Sensory Overload – sometimes sensory overload can stress a parent – you know that time when the children are squealing and screeching, the t.v. is on, the washing machine is going in the background – next minute you find yourself yelling at the kids? Try limiting background noise and ensure you’re not too hot or not too cold.
5. Keep up the Fluids – listen to your body and drink plenty of water. Dehydration is another contributing factor to “flipping your lid”.
6. Use Humour – humour, used carefully, can be used effectively to de-escalate the family stress and tension. If your child’s temper tantrum can get you riled up and angry, next time try making light of the situation. Be careful not to make fun of your child but make light of the situation e.g., “let me take a video and put you on pork chop t.v.” or “come on grumble bums, let’s have a cuddle”.
7. Talk to Someone – let your partner, or family or friend know that you are feeling stressed. Ask for help minding the kids – family want to help – and use the time to take time out for yourself. If you feel that your stress and anger is persisting on more days than not, and over several weeks, then speak to your GP. Irritability and anger can be a symptom of depression and you may benefit from speaking to a counsellor or psychologist.
8. Take Time Out for Yourself – Taking regular time out of your schedule for self-care is important for refuelling. Take a yoga class, get a massage, read your favourite book, go to a movie with a friend. Time-out can also be used when family tensions are rising – remove yourself physically from the situation, take a few deep breaths, visualise a happy place or times, remind yourself that kids are just being kids and aren’t perfect all the time.
9. Exercise – either by yourself or with your kids. Exercise releases endorphins, the feel good chemicals in the brain and can act as a circuit breaker to stress. When things are heating up in the household – why not suggest “hey lets grab our bikes and go for a ride”. Or ask your partner to look after the kids whilst you do a quick walk around the block.
10. Practice Mindfulness – when you are with your children, turn off the t.v., put your phone down, remove all distractions and sources of stress, and focus on just being present with your children. They will love the attention and an engaged child is a happy child, which means a happy family.
Written by Clinical Psychologist Dr. Karen Gallaty. CBT Professionals are a team of clinical psychologists on the Gold Coast with offices in Coomera and Nerang. Gold Coast CBT psychologists offer services to adults, children, and couples.
Disclaimer: Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only and is not intended to replace advise from your doctor or registered health professional. Readers are urged to consult their registered practitioner for diagnosis and treatment for their medical concerns.