Being a parent is a tough gig. You love your little munchkins more you can describe, but nothing can prepare you for the way your life turns upside (and the absence of ‘me time’) when you bring a little one into the world. By Tamarin Howse
I know how hard it can be living with stress and anxiety, so I created Better Tea Co, a tea brand with the aim of helping people all over New Zealand manage their stress and prioritise self-care.
Here are my top 10 tips for parents living with stress and anxiety:
- Ask for help
No-one is meant to parent alone. Yes, we may not have the traditional ‘village’ in these busy modern times, but that doesn’t mean you should be struggling solo. Reach out to your parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, friends and ask them if they would be happy to entertain your kids for a couple of hours while you catch up on jobs or spend some time pampering yourself. People LOVE to help!
2. Let the housework go
While it is great to have a clean and tidy home, and reducing clutter is proven to reduce stress, take it easy on yourself in this season of life. If the dishes have to wait until the next morning because you need an early night, or the laundry sits on the couch for a couple of days before you get around to putting it away, that’s okay. Your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your family is what really matters. The chores can wait.
Moving your body is crucial to physical and mental health. You may not have the time, energy, or cash to maintain your gym membership, but there are lots of ways you can exercise. You can go for a walk with the pram, stroll around the gardens with your kids, do some Pilates or yoga in your lounge room, or even have a dance party with the kids in the kitchen!
4. Catch up with friends
It can be tempting to put friendships on the backburner when you have children, but don’t underestimate the importance of good friends. Forget about the messy house, just invite someone over for a cup of tea, head out to the local coffee shop, or even Facetime someone! When you spend time with friends it recharges the soul and make you feel less alone.
5. Take vitamins
Physical health can decline when you’re busy with young kids. Sleepless nights, daycare illnesses and stress can wreak havoc on your body. Chat to your doctor or pharmacist about taking some vitamins to boost your immune system. It might even be worth having a blood test to see if you have any deficiencies that may be making your fatigue or anxiety worse.
6. Listen to music
Pop on your favourite album and belt out some tunes! It might be that song that takes you back to your teen years, or a compilation of some relaxing acoustic covers. Whatever brings you joy, listen to it! You don’t need to listen to the Bluey soundtrack and the Wiggles all day.
7. Get out of the house
Sometimes just looking around at the mess and the chores that need doing is enough to make your anxiety spiral. In these situations, just get out of the house. Head to the shops, see a friend, go for a walk, take the kids to the park, just remove yourself from the chaos. Once you’ve had a breather, you can come back and tackle the jobs. Getting fresh air can make a world of difference.
8. Spoil yourself
It’s hard in these tough financial times, but if you can afford it, set aside a small amount of money each week to do something for you. It may be a massage, a coffee, a hobby, luxury skincare or takeaway dinner. If money is tight, you can even just run a hot bath, watch a movie, read a book or pick some flowers from the garden.
9. Don’t feel guilty about taking a nap
Being a parent is tiring! You can’t always sleep when the baby sleeps, and your kids might be older and don’t have naps anymore, but if the opportunity arises for you to get some extra shuteye, don’t feel bad about taking it! Sometimes a bit of extra sleep can make life’s stresses seem less overwhelming. Sleep is so important for mental health.
10. Drink tea!
And of course, my favourite – drink tea! The simple ritual of making a cup of tea, and taking five minutes to enjoy it, is an easy way to reset and recharge. Whether it’s first thing in the morning with breakfast, in the evening when the kids are in bed, or all through the day, a warm cup of tea is wonderful for the body and the soul.
I created Better Tea Co during a time of significant stress and uncertainty in my life. The simple act of sharing a cup of tea with a friend helped me get through that difficult period.