5 Simple Ways to Avoid Parental Overload
Have you ever been inspired by a rousing workshop on parenting? Or been encouraged by a book about family leadership? Or listened to a friend describe a big win in their family?
We all get excited about improving family life and teaching our kids important life lessons. We want to be the best parents and step-parents, we can be. We have honorable intentions — maybe even some concrete plans how we'd like to move our family forward.
But have you ever felt overwhelmed by all those really great things that you want to accomplish with your family? I have!
When I start to feel overwhelmed, I can gradually lose motivation. Then I struggle to do anything at all. I get stuck in parental overload and all my plans seem to get lost in a fog obstacles. Ever been there?
Don't allow your good intentions to get side tracked. If you're feeling overwhelmed, here are 5 things to focus on as you move your family forward.
1. Pick Wisely
Focus on just one thing you'd like to teach your kids or one improvement you'd like to make. Maybe you want to establish a new habit of reading together as a family or to teach your kids a life skill, such as money management. To avoid parental overload, be wise in what you choose to focus on.
The key is to take on something you're able to handle now — you may have a big list of parenting goals, but what is most realistic in this season of your family's journey? Focus on the low-hanging fruit that's easy to pick rather than those loftier goals. Once you see the progress your family is making, you'll gain confidence to keep going. Eventually you'll be positioned to take on a bigger goal. Stay positive — you CAN do this!
2. One Step at a Time
When you identify a goal, it's easy to get overwhelmed if you fixate on all the work it's going to take to get there. Try not to get too far ahead of yourself. Instead, start out by focusing on the first step.
For example, if your goal is to instill a new habit, the first step is to carve out the time you'll need to make it happen. So many good intentions get hijacked by busy schedules, so tackling this first step is crucial.
Once you're feeling good about the first step and you're moving forward, then identify the next step and so on. All accomplishments (big and small) are completed one step at a time!
3. Don't Forget the Fun
When guiding and teaching kids, everything works better if we can make things fun.
Sometimes adults get bogged down with all the responsibilities that come with raising kids and we forget about the fun. I'll admit that I tend to take things too seriously and lose sight of fun — especially with my teenagers. Mike on the other hand is much better at interjecting fun into every situation.
Do your best to keep things light and pleasant. For instance, if you're teaching kids about money management, allow them to set aside 'fun money' that they'll have full control over — even if they choose to make some foolish purchases. It's okay for kids to make affordable mistakes along the way. This is how lessons are best learned.
4. Give Yourself a Time Out
If you start to feel overwhelmed and insufficient, this is an indication that you probably need a time out. There's an old saying: "You can't give what you don't have".
If you're feeling low on energy or if you're struggling through a chaotic season, it's okay to put your parenting goals on hold for a short period of time. Focus on caring for yourself and do something that will recharge your batteries.
If you start to lose momentum, try not to beat yourself up. Leading a family is a big job and there will be moments of discouragement. But don't let setbacks stop you from moving forward. Do something positive to care for yourself then get back to it once you're feeling revitalized.
5. Celebrate Your Wins
As a parent or step-parent, there will always be something you want to improve, develop or teach. This is a lengthy job and there are going to be different stages and seasons to invest in your family.
It's really easy to get hyper-focused on all the things we want to accomplish — so much so that we might feel like we aren't getting anywhere. We start spinning all the plates and wonder if we'll ever get a solid grip on any of them. This kind of thinking is self-defeating and unproductive.
That's why it's so important to celebrate your wins. Even the small wins are significant. They are steps in the right direction and they need to be acknowledged. Celebrate all your wins by sharing them with friends or treating yourselves to a special date night. Whatever you do, don't forget to applaud the progress you've made!
Defy Defeat and Confront Challenges
My parenting journey looks a lot like a roller-coaster — lots of ups and downs with some crazy turns thrown in. I know there's no such thing as a perfect parent, but I'm trying to avoid as many missteps as possible.
I want to make a positive impact in my family, but I sometimes I feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Especially those times when my Ex has very different ideas about parenting that often sabotages my efforts.
If you have kids that move between homes, you may feel defeated when all your great efforts seem to vaporize once the kids leave your home. Living in these dynamics will create more challenges which can magnify parental overload and exhaustion. It's common to experience two steps forward, then one step back — over and over and over. But that doesn't mean that you aren't making forward progress…YOU ARE!
Don't give up. Even though it may seem like everything you do is being opposed, your kids are still learning, growing and developing under your care. You CAN make an impact, no matter how limited your time is with your kids or what they experience in their other home!
'Imperfect Progress' Can Get You There
I love the term 'Imperfect Progress' because it conveys the fact that everything doesn't have to be perfect to make a difference. You can make a difference in your family by guarding against discouragement and parental overload. Choose a goal that's doable today and infuse plenty of fun as you go for it. Take a break when you need to and remember to celebrate your wins! You will get there — one step at a time!
QUESTION: What's one realistic goal you can take on and what will be your first step? Leave a comment below…