(A post from The Palmetto Basics)

Why is it so important to be parents and caregivers who “maximize love?” Because  love is foundational to a child’s health and success. It’s the number one thing every child needs and deserves. Children thrive when their world seems loving, safe, and predictable, and when parents are able to respond to their child’s needs with love

And for a parent to be able to maximize love, they have to learn how to manage their own stress. This means taking steps to avoid unnecessary stress and learning to cope effectively when stress is unavoidable.

Here are 3 things you can do today:

1. Have a person.

It’s so difficult for parents to maximize love and manage stress when they’re running on empty and lack support. Even the most loving parent can snap under too much stress. But when a mom or dad has a friend or family member they can call, it can make all the difference.

Having support doesn’t eliminate a parent’s stress, but it does provide the support they need to cope. Having a person, or a group of people, provides perspective, love, reassurance, and maybe even tangible help.

Managing stress isn’t just about healthy coping strategies. Managing stress requires supportive relationships..

2. Take a break.

Rare is the parent of a young child who can get a full day away, much less a mom’s weekend away. Instead, it’s helpful to build in breaks throughout the day, moments that serve as a reset. A “time out” for yourself can help you find perspective. It provides space for emotions to die down or for your head to clear.

A break can look like:

  • Taking one minute to walk away and take deep breaths so that you can return to your child with more calm and less anxiety
  • A stress-relieving activity: exercise, a nap while your child rests, prayer or meditation, calling a trusted friend
  • Taking a break with your child by going to the park, taking a walk, being in nature, and simply having a change of scenery

 

3. Prioritize sleep and rest.

This doesn’t sound glamorous, but prioritizing your own sleep is crucial for your mental, emotional, relational, and physical health. In the same way that your child is more prone to tantrums, whining, and lack of perspective when they don’t get a nap or a good night of sleep, it’s hard for grown-ups to manage stress and love others well when we don’t get the rest we need.

It’s normal to need some time to yourself once your child goes to sleep, but that can easily turn into staying up too late watching TV or scrolling through social media. Don’t let screens rob you of what you really need for renewal: sleep.

For one week, try choosing an earlier bedtime over mindless scrolling or watching and see if you feel like a better, more rested version of yourself. : )

Sleep equals sanity. It’s simple but true.

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

– Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #1, “Maximize Love, Manage Stress” in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.

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