“It goes by so fast” is the lament of experienced parents everywhere. Here are our top tips to help you keep perspective when the going gets tough.
By Libby Nelson, Professional Certified Coach
“It goes by so fast” is the lament of experienced parents everywhere. No doubt you’ve heard it a few (or a few hundred) times by now.
Those parents of “not so littles” aren’t wrong. It DOES go by fast. But that’s really hard to remember when your child is in a particularly difficult phase – colicky, fussy, clingy, teething, not sleeping, separation anxiety. On those days (and nights) it feels like this phase will last forever.
How do you keep perspective when the going gets tough? Here are a few tips that might help.
- Memorize a few mantras that you can practice on repeat. My mom’s favorite is “this, too, shall pass.” My most zen friend (and a mother of four) uses “it’s just a phase” for just about anything her kids are going through. Maybe print it out and post it somewhere to remind you.
- Get support. If a phase feels truly endless and you are really sapped for patience and resilience, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Check in with your pediatrician or your own doctor. Many insurance companies now offer on-call nurses to answer questions and help with troubleshooting. Your company’s Employee Assistance Program might also be able to point you toward resources for helping new parents cope.
- Talk about it. It’s often said that the two most powerful words when we are struggling are “me, too.” Find a few friends you can trust to keep it real about the good, bad and the ugly of parenthood. Check with your local hospital – often they organize groups of parents with babies the same age. It’s so helpful to know that you’re not the only one who can’t go to the bathroom without your baby having a meltdown.
- Take a timeout. If your baby is going through a really challenging stage, don’t be afraid to get extra help. Even a young teen can be a “parent’s helper” and entertain your little one while you grab a shower, make dinner or squeeze in a nap.
- BREATHE. When times get stressful, we often end up holding our breath. Deep belly breathing helps to reset the central nervous system and instantly lowers our stress response. My favorite tactic is box breathing and it goes like this: breathe in for a count of four, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold it out for four. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Do at least 3-4 rounds to really reset your system.
At the end of the day, maybe the most valuable tip is to keep some perspective. Remember that this is a very short chapter in the long saga of your parenting journey. Author Glennon Melton coined the term “brutiful” to describe so much of parenthood – the exquisite mix of the brutal with the beautiful. Try to find a few beautiful moments on the very longest days. They will, indeed, be gone before you know it. That is both the good news...and the bad news.