“When you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.”
Last summer, I felt like I was just going through the motions with regard to my parenting.
Do you know what I mean?
I was physically there parenting my kids everyday, but I wasn’t fully present. I had conversations with my kids, went on family outings with them, and participated in all of their important events and functions, but I didn’t take the time to enjoy them as much as I could have.
Basically, for a short period of time, I went through the motions of being a parent without actually being a quality parent. I definitely was not the parent that I wanted to be during this time.
The problem was that I was completely focused on studying for my upcoming licensing exams to become a clinical psychologist, and this personal focus interfered with my satisfaction as a parent. However, once I had passed my exams and this personal goal was behind me, I seemed to snap right back into my regular parenting self.
This experience taught me that falling into a “parenting slump” can happen far too easily, and the only way to pull ourselves out of this dark time is to remove the stressor that triggered the parenting slump in the first place.
5 Reasons That Can Trigger A “Parenting Slump” And How To Overcome Them
There are many reasons that parents experience a “parenting slump,” but these are 5 that I see most often.
Being busy and overwhelmed
Problem: Sometimes being busy just sneaks up on us; other times, we do it to ourselves by over scheduling our kids and ourselves. Being involved in activities is a good thing – they make us and our kids worthwhile, interesting people – but when we have scheduled too many activities or the activity becomes too demanding, then it is time to re-evaluate its benefit to us.
Solution: Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the intensity of this activity satisfy an important short-term goal (i.e. studying for an important licensing exam or several weeks of intense practice to prepare for an upcoming performance in a play)?
- Is this activity important to you or another family member?
- Can you still participate in this activity, but at a slower pace or with less responsibility?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of the above questions, then that is a huge indicator that you seriously need to consider dropping that activity.
Not getting enough sleep
Problem: Many well-meaning, busy parents have so much to do that they skimp on sleep in order to accomplish everything on their to do list. This might seem like a good idea, but according to WebMD, over time, lack of sleep can lead to symptoms of depression and forgetfulness. In addition, it affects a person’s ability to problem-solve effectively and impairs good judgement.
In terms of our health, not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain, heart problems, stress, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.
Solution: First, figure out how much sleep you need to function optimally (everyone is different – this can mean that some people can get by on 5 hours of sleep while most of us need 8). Second, stick to a bedtime schedule so that you regularly get your needed amount of rest. Third, adhere to Parkinson’s Law: work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.
I personally have experienced the positive effects of Parkinson’s Law. It’s amazing how I have become so much happier since understanding and implementing it. The psychology behind Parkinson’s Law suggests that we unconsciously perform better if we have a deadline. Study after study have found this law to be effective.
Feeling physically ill or out of shape
Problem: It just makes sense that if you are not feeling 100% due to an illness, you will not have the emotional or mental capacity to handle all the stressors that parenting throws at us. Ditto when it comes to being overweight or out of shape.
Solution: Prioritize eating healthy and exercising. If this is something that does not come naturally to you (I have to admit that I am not great at fitting exercise into my routine), start our small. A great website that I read often called Zen Habits has some great tips on how to begin an exercise habit that lasts.
Forgetting to have fun as a parent
Problem: You are too focused on raising “perfect” kids to enjoy it when they act less than perfect.I admit that I have been guilty of this one – especially when my kids were younger.
I think that some of us get too focused on parenting “the right way” that we lose sight of the fact that “the right way” sometimes means letting kids get messy, silly, and/or loud. We need to let our kids be kids when it’s appropriate – and we need to let go and have fun ourselves!
Solution: Give yourself permission to have fun with your kids. Start out by planning something fun with your family and then mindfully participate in this activity. In addition to planning a fun activity, aspire to spend some fun time as it spontaneously happens.
Forgetting to take care of your personal development
Problem: Have you ever felt like the only reason you were put on this earth was to pick up after people, attend to other people’s needs, or constantly give someone else your attention?
If you’ve ever had any of these thoughts, then this means that you have been neglecting your personal development. It’s important that we continue to take part in personal hobbies and interests that are separate from our families. Learning is a life-long process and when neglect this part of our lives, we begin to feel stagnant.
Solution: Create time in your weekly schedule for personal growth. This could mean that you get up an hour earlier each day to engage in an activity that brings you joy and satisfaction such as exercising, reading, writing, painting, etc.
Other ways of attending to your personal growth could take the form of attending a weekly class, joining a monthly social event, or training for an athletic event.
Take Home Message
The take home message here is that all parents lose their passion for parenting at some point – but it’s important to note that this is usually temporary.
Once you’ve identified why you’ve entered a “parenting slump” it’s your responsibility to take action and put yourself back on the path of parenting fulfillment. The result – a joyful family – is worth it.