Last year, a job description posted by Ashley Wehrli1 went viral for all the right reasons. It sparked huge debate, with some describing the task list as ‘unmanageable’ and many branding the employer’s expectations ‘unreasonable’.
Why? Well, while the job description stipulated that there was ‘no experience needed’, there was a hefty list of soft skill requirements, including ‘excellent mediation skills’, ‘MUST be a multitasker’ and ‘able to handle constant criticism’.
And one of the employee’s responsibilities was listed as ‘may need to catch vomit in your hand’. Oh, and anyone who accepted the job would be required to work overtime regularly, with no paid sick or holiday leave (yes, really!).
Can’t imagine why anyone would sign up for a job like this? Well, it turns out that more than 3,5 billion people already have. Yes, you guessed it, it was a job spec for parenthood.
Parenting is the most rewarding job in the world, but it’s certainly not without its challenges. There’s even a meme that reads: “Keep calm & parent on,” and while it’s intended to be tongue in cheek, it’s the reality that 3,5 billion parents face every day. Parenting is a 24/7/365 job with no breaks – and you’re expected to do it while also juggling work, friendships and family relationships.
It’s an around-the-clock responsibility and it’s inevitable that you’ll have difficult days – you’d even be forgiven for occasionally losing your cool. But how exactly do you “Keep calm & parent on” when you’re already feeling frazzled? Here are four ways to stay calm when you need it most.
Identify everyone’s emotional triggers
If you know that nagging the kids to put on their pyjamas and brush their teeth are moments in your day that regularly test your patience, go into those situations prepared2. You may not be able to eliminate the emotional trigger – in this case, your child’s defiance, or refusal to do something – but you can change your reaction to it. Know that they’re likely to push your buttons and plan how (or if…) you’d like to respond when it happens. Anticipating your triggers gives you a chance to formulate a response before you reach a heightened emotional state.
Decide what’s important
When you’re dealing with kids – and toddlers in particular – nobody has the time or energy to fight every battle they face in a day, so choose what’s important to you. For some moms, the kids putting their own clothes in the laundry basket is a non-negotiable, while for others, it’s a battle they’d prefer not to get into. There will be a million triggers throughout the day so decide what’s really important to you – it’s okay to let the less important stuff slide.
Take some time
The smartest thing a parent can do is know when you are not in control of your emotions. If your child is in a safe environment and you feel yourself reaching boiling point, just walk away. If your child is old enough to understand, tell them you need 5 minutes by yourself. Those moments of quiet might be exactly what you need to stop you from losing your cool3. Try some calming deep breathing exercises or scream into a pillow – whatever works for you!
No surprises here: a parent who isn’t overwhelmed, overtired, and stressed is less likely to have a blow-up4. While it can seem impossible when you’re already stretched for time, try to do something that’s just for you every day – whether that’s going for a walk, 20 minutes of meditation, reading a book before bed or just mindlessly sitting in front of the TV.
Try a supplement
And when you’re pushing yourself to the limit in every area of your life, it’s natural that you’ll eventually reach the end of your tether. And in those moments, consider a supplement to calm your nerves. Calmettes contains Valerian root, a natural plant extract that can help with nervous tension and anxiety5.
Parenting is a full-time job without any breaks and we’re all just doing our best, so don’t give yourself a hard time for not being a perfect parent – because perfect parents don’t even exist. Focus instead on being the best parent you know how to be, because that’s exactly the parent that your child needs.
- https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/anger-management/art-20045434 and https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/emotional-triggers#long-term-healing
- https://www.everydayhealth.com/self-care/ and https://www.verywellmind.com/importance-of-self-care-for-health-stress-management-3144704#:~:text=While%20self%2Dpampering%20doesn’t,for%20you%20inside%20and%20out.
- Calmettes® Tablets, Abbott Laboratories S.A. (Pty) Ltd. Professional Information, 25 February 1974.
S0 CALMETTES® tablets. Each coated tablet contains: Valerian dispert powder of natural origin 45 mg (extract of plant root Valerian officinalis). Reg. No: F/2. 6/60. For full prescribing information, refer to the Professional Information approved by SAHPRA. Applicant: Abbott Laboratories S.A (Pty) Ltd., Co.Reg.No.: 1940/014043/07. Abbott Place, 219 Golf Club Terrace, Constantia Kloof, 1709. Tel. No.: +27 11 858 2000. Date of publication of this promotional material September 2022. Promotional review number SAF2251297.