Three worries we have as parents (and how to get past them)
As caregivers, we have a lot of hefty responsibilities.
As we are tasked with keeping our kids and homes safe, we can make ourselves crazy. This is part of the reason that many parents battle worry and anxiety.
Here are a few things we worry about as parents – and a little truth behind the situations.
Do you worry about spending enough time with your family?
No matter what your working situations, many caregivers worry about giving their kids the right amount of quality time.
But whether you have 10 hours a day with your child or two, you have many other responsibilities, too.
Consider quality rather than quantity when you think about time with your kids. And remember that the experiences your children receive from others is also very important.
"You don't have to be the sole provider of all experiences for your child," explains Natalie Doyle, early childhood program coordinator and education consultant for the Rock Island County Regional Office of Education. "There are so many great options for quality childcare in the Quad Cities that give your kids great experiences, too."
Do you worry about your child's development?
From sleeping to potty training and from reading to counting, we all want our kids to be at the "head of the class."
But, this pressure can be too much for your kids - and yourself.
Natalie laughs as she recounts her own three-year-old's sleep patterns and her anxiety about getting him to stay in his bed.
"I wonder, am I helping him be independent or not?" she says. "But I know I'm overanalyzing this and worrying about things that will simply come with time."
Not all children are on the same timetable. So, just because your friend's son is sleeping through the night (or going potty or reading novels) doesn't mean it's the right or only way.
"There's so much pressure on parents today," says Angie Kendall, director of development and communications at the Child Abuse Council. "Focus on what your kids can do and help them learn to tell you what they are thinking and feeling."
Celebrate your kids and their path to reaching milestones - even if it's not the same path you would choose.
Do you worry that you can't do it on your own?
Caregivers shouldn't have to live in a vacuum. It's perfectly reasonable (and necessary) to ask for help - from friends, family and professionals.
"Parents need to get perspective from others," says Jen Best, certified family life educator with Iowa State University Extension. She recommends doctors, teachers, couselors, pastors and friends as people to lean on for support.
Do you want to reduce the worry in your life?
Having worries as a parent is normal. It can even keep your kids safe and secure.
"Everyone always has something that is their thing, and that's okay," says Angie.
But, if you are overwhelmed with worry, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Why am I worried about this? (Getting to the root of your worry is a great place to begin. Are you worried about potty training because your mother-in-law says your daughter is behind? Are you stressed about stranger danger because you heard something on the news that happened on the other side of the country?)
Who can I talk to about this? (Rely on your support system when you are paralyzed with fear. Sometimes talking about your worries helps them become more manageable.)
Is this helpful? (Sometimes, worry can be helpful - it can provide structure and boundaries for children to keep them safe. But other times, this fear can do more harm than good. And spending lots of time rehashing the worst-case scenarios in your head can make them seem more real than they actually are.)
Sometimes, worry comes along with being a parent. Channel the worries you have in healthy ways. But don't let it become the only driver in your life. Because it may put the brakes on instead.
Get to the bottom of your worries, take action, and know when to move on. This is better for your kids - and for you.