Say No to Parenting Stress

Ask any parent you know if they experience stress in their day to day life and you’ll quickly find that the answer is yes! Parenting is one of the greatest joys many of us will ever experience in our lifetimes, but it’s not for the faint of heart. The pressures and demands of juggling a marriage, home, and children can be both physically and emotionally exhausting. Here are some tips to keep the stress in your life under control.

One of the quickest ways to reduce stress is to learn how and when to say no! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to sit back and evaluate. What activities are taking up most of your time? What obligations have you committed yourself to that you now regret? Some things we just can’t say no to. For example, anyone who knows me knows that I would love to say no to laundry! Well, as great as that sounds, if I ignore the laundry then there would be a serious problem at my house, four kids and nothing to wear! Instead, I can try to set aside a time each day or week to tackle the mountains of laundry that grow overnight at my house, or I can solicit help from my kids or husband (or really any willing person who walks into my house!) to get it all done.

On the other hand, there are some things that we sign our kids or ourselves up for that do nothing but add more stress to our lives. What are those things for you? For me, it’s enrolling my kids in too many activities. In today’s society, there are so many opportunities available for our children. But with four children, I have learned that I have to set some limits. We have a rule at our house that each of our children can only be involved in one sport at a time. While I might hear some grumblings from them initially, it’s worth it in the end. Consider how you might re-prioritize your obligations, and you’ll be one step closer to a more peaceful and stress-free life!

Next, try to schedule some time each day to do something that’s all about you! Whether it’s reading your favorite book, getting your nails done, or just sitting on your porch sipping your coffee, busy parents need time to unwind. It doesn’t have to be something that costs a lot of money or takes up all of your time, but it’s so important to keep your personal interests and hobbies active in your life.

In addition to making time for yourself, it’s equally important to make time for your spouse! If you have a partner in parenting then that relationship needs to be nurtured. Get a babysitter and schedule a date night, spend some time together at the beginning and end of each day talking, or invite the grandparents to babysit the kids overnight and get out of town! Whatever you can do to improve your parenting partnership will undoubtedly benefit your whole family in the long run.

Another sure fire way to reduce stress is to develop a strong social support system amongst your friends, extended family, co-workers, neighbors, and faith community. Despite being busy with our own children and families, sharing your life with others helps to minimize your stress level. Also, incorporate exercise into your daily routine and you’ll find yourself feeling more relaxed almost immediately! Take a walk around the block, go to a class at your local gym, or pop in a fitness DVD to work out at home, just get moving!

I’d be lying if I said my life was stress-free. But, I can assure you that when I do make an effort to reduce my stress, I am always a more relaxed and happier parent as a result. Give it a try, and let me know how it works for you!


  1. Pam says

    Hi Polly,

    I loved your article — I agree with you, we need to give ourselves permission to stop the madness! I remember one spring when I refused to sign-up my three boys in baseball. Many a parent shook their head in sadness at me, for it was obvious that my children would never grow up to be professional baseball players — as if ! Instead, we skipped the hotdog diet and instead enjoyed badminton and lazy weekends as a family.

    Keep up the great writing & advice- you are great!! ~pam


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