Reducing stress is important, for your sake as well as for your children. Reducing your stress gives you time and energy to be the best parent you can be.
Recognizing the signs of stress
- Feeling tired most of the time
- Snapping at family and friends
- Not being able to make decisions
- Changes in sleeping habits—either sleeping a lot or not sleeping enough
- Not wanting to eat, or overeating
- Muscle tension leading to pain in the neck, shoulders or back
- Not being able to concentrate
Although some stressful tasks can’t be avoided, changing the way we do them can help reduce stress. Try to plan your day the night before using a to-do list, and schedule the most important or unpleasant tasks first.
Making Errands Less Stressful
Running errands with a child can be stressful, but these simple tips can make time out of the house more enjoyable for both of you:
- Plan to run errands right after breakfast, when children are not tired or hungry.
- Be prepared to meet your child’s needs. Pack a bag with a few diapers, wet wipes, diaper ointment, a change of clothes, a zip lock bag for soiled clothes, a pacifier and a small toy.
- If you are not breastfeeding, bring along a bottle with powdered formula and a bottle of water so you can mix it when needed.
- For older children, bring a healthy snack. Granola bars, raisins, Cheerio’s, Gold Fish crackers or other favorites will hold them over until you can all get some lunch.
- A removable sunshade for the vehicle’s side windows will protect your baby’s skin and eyes from the sun and make the ride more pleasant.
- Limit the number of errands you try to accomplish in a day. Babies can be over stimulated by too many sights and sounds and may become fussy, while toddlers get bored having to sit still for long periods of time.
- Be flexible! Take care of the most urgent matters first, so if children get tired or fussy, you can head home and leave the remaining errands for another time.
- If you have several children to keep up with, ask a friend or family member to come along for your outing and help with the children.