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Combatting the Stress of Parenthood

Written by Julie Jensen

How do you unload from the ‘weight’ of parenthood? Our writer (and mother of three young ones) shares her tips to release her stress and be a better parent for it.

I love being a mom and I feel fortunate to be able to do so. None the less, the mental load of being completely accountable and responsible for three children is fairly stressful.

Keeping a tally of all of our bathroom breaks and diaper changes alone can keep my mind hopping. On top of that, I need to come up with toddler-approved explanations to the why’s of the universe and let’s not even mention the maddening noise of the internet, nor the feedings and laundry.

Let all the stress out

My mind can seem at capacity a lot of the time. Actually, it feels over capacity. My heart is used to the overflow of joy and love with these three children. But my brain, it’s a minimalist and it. just. Can’t.

I’ve found as frazzled as I am, the only way to slow that runaway train in my head and make space is to release some of it out. To just get the thoughts out of there.

Although a long solid venting session to another adult provides some relief, the problem still remains. And now I feel like I just vomited on them profusely.  Also, I don’t want any advice or vocabulary back. I mean, not to be rude, but I don’t want more words being poured back in my brain. I just want them out!

Hence, journaling.

Releasing the mental load

I’ve found a big way to combat this mental load is to simply write it all out. Grabbing that favorite pen I have hidden away from little fingers and pulling out my journal. It’s me time.

Journaling has always been a big part of my life since childhood and has helped me in many ways. However, the benefits it has had on this phase and stage of life as a parent to small children have been truly remarkable.

As I write out all that’s rocking around in my head I start to feel my energy pick up, my body unclenches and my patience starts to thicken. I am able to sweat off the small stuff and focus on the big stuff. Priorities start to fall in line on my to-do list with each dotted bullet point.

Here are three things that writing down my thoughts helps me do:

Recharge my energy. Not only as a parent but particularly as an introvert, I need time alone. This time alone is where my battery recharges. It recharges my mental and physical energies.

Alone time is something really hard to come across when I have little ones to care for.

I am constantly being touched and talked at. But when I open up my journal and start writing, I find a place in which I am alone. They can be cuddled up next to me, and yet I feel like I’m in solitude. 

Find resolutions to problems. It all just seems to make more sense when I write out all my frustrations. I can read it back over and pick out the actual root of my issues. Once I get a clear visual of what’s really bothering me, I start to fix the problem.

I feel more empowered to resolve issues instead of hopelessly meandering through the small irritants. Instead of batting around all the nonconsequential struggles and overdramatizing them, I can let them go and tackle what I’m actually struggling with.

See ‘the me’ in motherhood. It’s easy to feel blurred in the chaos of tantrums and rock-a-byes, of messy fun and cleanups. Their moods can start to morph into mine quite easily.  I start to view myself more independently when I write my opinions, perspectives, and itineraries; my rises, falls, dreams and fears.

With this independence, I feel like I appreciate and take more accountability for my entrusted role of motherhood. I can become the rock that my children need in their years of such loud emotions.

I can show them what confidence is. I can fail over and over without letting it determine whether or not I keep trying. Though I love listening to motivational speeches and reading empowering material, writing out my own truths has given me the most important key to my success in life. Me.

Combatting the stress

I am in awe of how something as simple as a pen and paper combats my crazy. I just start to write what’s up in my head. What’s bugging me. What’s on my to-do list. What my three-year-old just said to me that made my heart melt. My views on the current state of the world. The movies I really want to see. What we’re gonna eat for supper. Everything and anything.

I’m not distracted when I have a pen and paper in my hand. The space that I can run wild and free in. I jump up and start building a tower with my kids. The messy house doesn’t seem to have the same effect on me. I am motivated enough to tackle the mountain that is the clean clothes pile.  I’m back. Back to the me that can focus on a single task and stick to it. Back to the me that can be more present.

What do you do to unwind from parenthood? Let us know in the comments!

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.