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6 Tips for less-stress parenting

Paula Statman, MSSW is an internationally respected educator, speaker and award-winning author. Her practical, positive approach to raising safe and strong children has benefited hundreds of thousands of parents. Paula is a repeat guest ...

stress less

Nobody ever said parenting was easy, but here are some practical tips for how to worry less and enjoy parenting more.

To Do Lists

1Find a pediatrician you like.

In many ways, your pediatrician is like a partner. In fact, some women say that during the first couple of years, they talked to their pediatrician more than their husbands! Choose a pediatrician who offers practical advice and knows how to listen. Remember, there are no dumb questions when it's about your child. Also, it is a good idea to interview several pediatricians and choose the one that best matches your childcare philosophies.

2Incorporate time-saving products and services into your daily routine, when you can.

Without a doubt, parenting is one of the richest and most satisfying roles we play. It is also filled with repetitive, routine tasks that can zap our best energy. There has been an explosion of modern conveniences designed to save you time and sanity. For example, tear-free shampoos can help avoid bath-time battles; home-cooked meal delivery services ensure a nutritious dinner on the table. Of course, some of these luxuries may not fit in your budget, but decide where it makes sense to invest a little money to gain some time to do things that matter to you. Who said busy moms can't read a book, take a long leisurely bath, or go to a yoga class? Balance each day to include something you enjoy. Time saving tools can help.

3Plan ahead for tomorrow.

To make your morning less hectic, spend a few minutes at night making tomorrow's bottles and cups, picking out clothes, packing an "on the go" bag, etc. Make a to-do list so you don't forget important errands. If your children are in pre school or older, let them participate in this routine. In the course of managing your time well, you are teaching them valuable skills such as planning ahead, organizing, and problem solving.

4Establish a predictable night-time routine and create comforting rituals.

Reading, singing or a warm bath at the same time each night will help your child understand it is time to go to sleep. Let your child use a safe comfort object to provide security. Keep an "open door" policy to make your child feel connected to you at night. The cuddling and intimacy of your evening routine will help your child say good bye until morning as well as create precious memories for you. With older children past the "read-me-a-story" stage, take a few minutes to relax with them.  Most importantly, before you leave their room, tell them how much you love them and how glad you are that they are yours…no matter what kind of day it's been.

5Avoid power struggles.

Children don't want to interrupt their playtime to do something we care about, like putting toys away. Help your child cooperate with you by easing into transitions with plenty of notice, by allowing them to make choices ("Do you want to put this sock on first or the other one?") and by turning routine tasks like getting dressed into games and contests. You may not want to see the world through your child's eyes when you are in a hurry. But, that extra minute you invest can mean the difference between a temper tantrum and a hug.

6Play is a powerful antidote to stress.

I always say, "Where there is flexibility and forgiveness, fun's not far behind." Forgive yourself for the unfolded baskets of laundry and the leftovers for dinner. Design flexible schedules for yourself and don't let your to-do lists push you around. Parenting offers wonderful opportunities to rediscover and enjoy the child within you. Playing and laughing with your children not only deepens your relationship with them, it lightens your load and reduces your stress.

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