Thursday 28 September 2017

Coping with the stress of parenting our kids

Top suggestions for stressed parents

Baby brain? Had that. Sleepless nights? Yep, I've still got them. The kids have definitely had an impact on my body and health. I love all my children to bits but let's face it, despite my youngest now being four years old, there's still a lot more tummy than there was nine years ago.  It looks like someone has spirographed on a pigs belly. And that's not the half of it.

Anyone else notice piles of hair coming out shortly after having kids?  Turns out though that along with the sleepless nights and the stretch marked tummy, hair loss shortly after giving birth is relatively normal.  Along with headaches, muscle tension, sleep problems, feeling tired all the time or eating too much or too little - it could be a sign of stress.

Excessive or prolonged stress can lead to illness and physical and emotional exhaustion.  Some sources say that the chronic stress of caregiving ages mothers by ten years. Parents of autistic children get sicker, too.  A 2012 study found that the parents of children with autism were more likely to get common ailments such as colds, coughs and headaches as a direct result of the increased stresses linked to their caring responsibilities.   Parent carers I know directly relate their illness to this stress and anxiety.

Not convinced?  The NHS even list being a carer as one of potential causes of stress. They say that
it's important to tackle the causes of stress in your life if you can, but that not always easy as a carer is it? Their advice is to accept there's nothing you can do when you have to and refocus your energies elsewhere and 'find ways to take breaks and do the things you enjoy.'

The problem is that it's so easy to get stressed with the pressure of getting things right for our kids.  I've found accepting that I can't do anything really difficult.  Instead I try 'parking' a worry or stress with the plan to go back to it later.  I recognise it and understand that I need to do something about it but that I don't have to deal with it right this minute.  This at least gives me breathing room.

For the other part of their advice on doing things I enjoy?  Well despite being constantly asked 'what do you want Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary', I honestly find it difficult to remember what I enjoy doing that doesn't involve my kids.  I want to spend time with them, but I've realised I need to take care of myself too if I'm going to continue doing this effectively.

So I asked my fellow Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) parents what they did to relieve stress. Perhaps you'll get some ideas from them too.

Top stress relief suggestions for parents - walking

Walking with the dog in particular was highlighted by Someone's Mum and Mum on a Mission. I loved doing this before our Smithy passed away, and now I sometimes still fit in walking but only when it makes practical sense.  I live right on one of London's parks and should make more use of it.

Both Often Called Cathy and Stories About Autism find going to the gym helpful. Often Called Cathy says she is now strong enough to jog pushing her daughter in her chair so there's no need for a baby sitter.  Autism Mumma lists cycling and walking (when her feet are better!) and Living with a Jude also uses the gym as getting time for herself.

A relaxing bath
I used to love having baths and treating my body with some kind of care but honestly bathing has become part of the chore of looking after the kids as it usually happens with them.  Getting them into the bath... washed... out of the bath and the rest. Isla's Voice and Our World and Autism both suggest having a relaxing bath without the kids as a way to relax.  I think it's a fab suggestion and I'm digging  out my recently received B Organic Skincare bits.  I'm particularly excited about using the foot balm as honestly me feet are so tired by the end of the day.

Meeting up with friends - was a favourite from Brody, Me & GDDMum on a Mission and First Time Valley Mum.  Sometimes this can be hard for parents both without and especially with kids who have additional needs to meet up.   Appointments and finding parents to connect with can be difficult. I've found friends online, through schools and through parents groups, specifically at Me too & Co and think I'll be trying this more often.  If it includes coffee and chocolate cake I know Parenting the PDA Way and A Wheelie Great Adventure will be there.

Getting away
Work is the norm for some, but it can also be a break.  The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy and It's All About Evie list their work as a way of getting away from stress and Our World and Autism even says going for a drive... on her own helps to de-stress.

Music and Reading 
Living Life Our Way likes going to concerts and gigs when they can and The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy actually finds playing the piano a way to de-stress. Isla's Voice and Stories About Autism and Living with a Jude all both like reading to de-stress too.

What do you do to de-stress - which of these might you try?

Bringing Us Together is currently running an important survey into general parent carer health. If you are a parent carer I know they would love your feedback.  All responses are anonymous and BUS will  publish the responses later this year.  Please visit the survey 


  1. Thanks for sharing a link to our survey, we have had hundreds of responses - some of which are totally heart breaking. Love these tips though, will definitely be sharing your post to other families.

  2. Thanks so much for the mention and the great advice too!

  3. Thanks for including us! Great post!! X

  4. My go to destresser is the beach. I go for a long beach walk when I need some rest and relaxation. I need it now! Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

  5. My way of distracting myself is baking :) x

  6. Having a cat helps (when he isn't the source of stress...), removing myself from an escalating situation helps reduce stress for everyone. Generally music is a good one, something cathartic and noisy or playing guitar.


  7. walking really helps me focus on the now and chill out #KCACOLS

  8. Really good advice and is look after yourself or how else can you do it for someone else X #KCACOLS

  9. Every one of these is on my list of things to do, but I never get to them. I think my favorite one is getting together with friends. #dreamteam

  10. My stress release is the gym. It's the place I can work my butt off, calm down a bit whilst working on myself. It's made me so much stronger as a parent and my relationship has benefited so much from a bit of me time #KCACOLS

  11. Very true, we need to look after ourselves more. I think if we look after ourselves from time to time then we are in a better state of mind to care for our family. I love to meet up with friends or take a little break x
    #thanks for joining #kcacols

  12. Raising kids is very stressful especially when they have additional needs. My eldest is now an adult but the stress is still there! I find a bubble bath really helps but husband has to be on duty to stop them all coming in the disturb me #thelistlinky

  13. I think there's some excellent ideas here for any parent, let alone an SEN parent. I hope you're looking after yourself, you're doing an amazing job, and you definitely need to be kind to yourself every now and again. Thank you so much for linking up to #DreamTeam.

  14. It is difficult to do things for yourself when you're a carer for SEND kids. I'm very lucky to have a supportive husband who lets me have most Saturdays to myself. I get a lie-in and then spend the day writing or whatever else I feel like whilst he spends the day with the boys.


  15. Some really good ideas here, and so important to try and get control of. A few years back I really struggled with stress and it made everything in life seem incredibly difficult. As parents we have to find ways to look after ourselves too

  16. I'm glad all these parents are finding ways to cope. Hopefully they and you are getting the support you need. #kcacols

  17. Great tips. It's SO important to have a break away from the kids. I'm going away for the night with my partner at the beginning of November. So looking forward to it. #KCACOLS

  18. Sensational Learning with Penguin14 October 2017 at 18:16

    Thank you for a good read and some great ideas. I suffer from stress burnout, after having tried to juggle full-time work with special needs family life for too long (now I've left my job, focusing on our boy).
    I steal micro-breaks for myself by sneaking outside with my cup of coffee for a few minutes, just focusing on the moment, the sun and wind on my face, the smell of fresh air mixing with my coffee, the warmth of the cup I'm holding. I guess it's some kind of home-made mindfulness exercise?
    Music can be great too, and dancing, like having a disco with myself while cooking.

  19. some good ideas there i like to go walking

  20. Walking with my chug Arthur really helps me relax and take my mind off my epilepsy, anxiety as I was scared even go out before x

  21. your blog is very informative, I was also suffering hereditary hair loss so I consulted HGC Uk.


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