Dealing with Common Parenting Challenges

Parenting is as much a rewarding job as it is a challenging one, but it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the joys of motherhood when you’re feeling overwhelmed with different responsibilities, challenges, and an overall lack support and energy. To help you feel more in control of your time and kids, we’ve compiled solutions to five of the most common parenting challenges that you are likely to come up against when parenting 1+ young child.

Dealing with Sleep Deprivation:

Mothers of children that are under 5 years old are probably the most sleep deprived creatures on the planet. One study indicated that a single mom can lose up to 700 hours of sleep during the first year of her baby’s life, and that this number increases if she has another child soon after her firstborn. Sleep deprivation is no minor matter and can take a heavy toll on both body and mind; not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can impair your ability to think clearly, handle stress, maintain a healthy immune system, and control your emotions.

If you’re finding it difficult to make time to get more sleep, try using the following strategies: actively involve your spouse in taking care of your kid(s) by having him share nighttime duties with you, such as settling your child into bed, giving your baby a bottle, or taking your little one for a drive to get them to settle down. Try to slip daytime naps into your hectic schedule when your own child sleeps if you’re a stay-at-home mom, even if that means cutting back on household chores. If you have a day job, try to turn in as soon as you place your child to sleep for the night.

Leaving on Time in the Morning:

The days when you could leave at a moment’s notice without having to worry about anyone but yourself are long gone now that you’ve got a child (or two) on board. Getting your kid(s) and yourself dressed, fed and out of the house on time can sometimes feel near impossible, what with last minute diaper changes, lost keys, hidden shoes, and trips back to the house for forgotten milk bottles.

To get your things in order, start by setting aside a few minutes the night before to organize your own things, such as your bag and clothes, so that you only need to focus on getting your kid(s) ready the next day. Also try setting your watch 5-10 minutes forward and keeping track of your time. Even if you know that your watch is running faster, you will still get a jolt when you see that it’s already 9a.m. and will push yourself and your little one(s) to move faster.

Enjoying a Quiet Meal:

Can’t remember the last time you managed to enjoy a meal from beginning to end without having your child demand your attention, grab what’s on your plate, wiggle out of their seat and under the table to poke at everyone’s legs, or run around the room yelling at the top of their lungs while playing? Welcome to the reality of motherhood. But there are a few things that you can do to make mealtimes more pleasant for yourself, and the first strategy is to begin training your child in table manners. If your kid is too young to begin to grasp the finer details of proper mealtime behavior, then try feeding your child before you and your spouse and then have your own dinner afterwards once your child is in bed or busy watching TV. When you really feel like having a nice meal, leave your child with a babysitter and head out with your partner or with your friends to a restaurant.

Finding Time for You and Your Partner:

Getting quality alone time for yourself or with your partner is important for your emotional wellbeing and for keeping your relationship with your spouse thriving. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mother, it is okay to get some time to relax away from the kids without feeling guilty. If you can’t afford to hire a babysitter, try to arrange a play date with another mom friend who has children around your child’s age, or ask your parents to take your kid for a day while you get some quality time with your husband or enjoy relaxing with a book or at the salon. Remember, taking time to be without your kid(s) doesn’t mean that you’re neglecting them; it’s simply something you should do on occasion to rejuvenate yourself in order to keep up a positive attitude and be a happier mom.

Dealing with Unwanted Opinions:

Let’s face it, people like to dish out opinions and suggestions, from family, to friends, to coworkers and acquaintances - someone somewhere always seems to have an opinion on what you’re doing or planning to do. In fact, if you take what people say to heart, you might end up feeling like most of your decisions and the way you raise your family are wrong, even though they probably aren’t! It’s none of anyone’s business whether you decide to leave the workforce to take care of your kids, go back to work soon after you’ve given birth, allow your kids to watch TV, or even don’t allow your kids to watch TV!

The best way to deal with unwanted opinions from (possibly well-meaning) folks is to either completely ignore them or be ready with a firm retort that puts whoever is giving unsolicited feedback in their place. As long as your kids are loved and well cared for, you have nothing to worry about. Surround yourself with people that you enjoy being with and who give you the support and encouragement you need to be a happy and positive mom.