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How To Manage Stress as a Parent or Caregiver

Updated: Mar 14

Juggling the needs of children along with household chores, personal well-being and other relationships is a lot. With the right strategies, we can find balance within the chaos. 


A planner packed with events.


Try these practical tips to manage stress and anxiety: 

  

1. Establish Realistic Expectations 


One primary source of stress for parents is the pressure to meet unrealistic expectations. Social media and movies make parenthood look easy breezy. Being a parent or caregiver is a messy yet rewarding role. It’s rarely as glamorous as seen on TV.  


Remember: you’re the best parent for your child.  

Hot Tip: Find a parenting crew to keep you grounded! When times are rough, lean on them for reassurance. We’re all in this together!  

 

2. Prioritize Self-Care 


Visuals of getting nails done, running, reading a book and hanging out with friends in nature.

As parents, we put our children’s needs first. This often means we neglect our own well-being. It can be hard to find free time, but by setting aside a bit of time every week for the activities we enjoy, we’re setting a great example for our children. 


Did you know flamingos lose their pink color after they give birth? This is a visual representation of the nutrients their body gave to their offspring.  


Like flamingos, we give a lot to our children. Taking care of ourselves is a way we can get our “pink color” back.   



Here are some ways to start:  


  • Binge watch your favorite TV shows (we give you permission!)  

  • Read a fiction book 

  • Move your body – dance, walk, play pickleball — whatever gets you moving 

  • Rediscover a forgotten hobby   

3. Build a Support System 


Parenthood doesn't have to be a solo journey, even if you’re the primary caregiver. A reliable support system can act as a backup when you need a break, or a boost in confidence.  


Hot Tip: When your support system wants to help, let them! It takes a village. Connecting with friends, family or local parenting groups who can offer advice, share experiences and provide practical help, can lighten the load.  

If you don't have a support network, a teacher from parentPro or a Nurse from Children First can be a great way to start building one. 


Need more guidance? SafeCare in Tulsa and North Care in OKC provide extra support for families in need.

 

4. Embrace Routine and Flexibility 


Take a Break in whimsical writing.

Young children thrive on routine, and having a structured daily schedule can provide a sense of predictability.  


Predictability can reduce stress for everyone, making daily tasks more manageable. 


Here are some routines to add structure to your day:  


  • Alone time before the kids wake up 

  • Consistent mealtimes  

  • Bedtime rituals:

    • For your child, this may look like: washing your face, putting on pajamas and reading a bedtime story.  

    • For you, this may look like this: spending time on a hobby (or watching TV), showering or bedtime meditation. We love this free YouTube meditation!

As much as we can make plans, the unexpected is bound to happen. When this occurs, do your best to take care of your family and get back on track the next day.  

  

5. Practice Mindfulness  


Woman in a meditation class.

In moments of stress, incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques can be helpful. Try doing some deep breathing, meditation or yoga to calm the mind. 


Free meditations and yoga (like Yoga with Adriene) can be experienced in 15 minutes or less and make a huge impact on how you handle the day. 


When your child is old enough, try to include them in your meditation or yoga practice to bond and teach them a healthy coping mechanism for stress. 


Hot Tip: Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take a deep breath and chill for a minute.  

  

6. Seek Professional Support 


If you feel overwhelmed or have feelings of stress that continue or start to feel unmanageable, consider seeking professional help. Protecting your mental health is a great thing to do for your family. Mental health professionals and support groups can provide valuable guidance and coping strategies tailored to you. 


Hot Tip: We know you’re busy! Online therapists are more available now than ever. Look into BetterHelp or TalkSpace for virtual options. Be sure to check with your insurance before committing to a counseling service.

Managing stress is something we all deal with. Focus on finding what works for your family.  


If you’re experiencing postpartum anxiety or depression, check out these free resources:  


If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, please seek help immediately. Here are emergency resources:  


  • Counselors speak English and Spanish, with interpreters who speak 60 different languages. 

 

Strong families are the building blocks of a strong society. Parents need and deserve to care for themselves to ensure they can support their children with stable, caring, and nurturing environments. 


Need more support? We’ve got you! Take our quiz to find more resources.

 

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