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Working parent avoid the crash

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If you find yourself shouting at the kids more often than not, feeling overwhelmed by work, exhausted at the mere thought of the stack of laundry waiting for you, and crying at the slightest provocation – be warned: you could be heading for a major meltdown.

You’d be wise to take action now, before you come up against something that will tip you over the edge. So what emergency measures can you take to stop yourself losing the plot completely? How does a working parent avoid the crash?

stressed mum

Make changes to the routine

Start by giving yourself a new regime – send yourself to bed early every night for the next week. It’s amazing how much difference some quality sleep can make, so stop burning the candle at both ends, at least for now.

If sleepless nights are part of the problem, then you need a quick fix to get at least one night’s decent kip. Let your partner take the strain of getting up to the kids in the night, or call in a friend or family member to babysit overnight. Sleep in a separate room – hell, even book yourself into the nearest Travelodge for a night, if that’s the only way. It’ll pay for itself in peace and quiet alone!

Give yourself a break, too, from the pressures of work. If you have some annual leave to spare, then take a day off now. If not, then a strategic sick day might be in order – you might feel guilty about ‘swinging the lead’ a bit but surely it’s better to have one day off now than loads later when you’re really struggling to cope.

Taking time out

Try to take time out from all of your responsibilities – work, home, partner, children, friends and family. You need a day (or more) just for you. If budget permits, then how about a spa day – or at least get your hair and nails done. Maybe a trip to the cinema in the afternoon, or some retail therapy could do the trick. Bake a cake, go for a long walk or (if British summer weather allows) head off to the seaside with a beach towel and a good book. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that’s a break from your normal routine, that gives you pleasure and is all about you.

Once you’ve given yourself some time out and averted any immediate crisis in your wellbeing, you need to take a long hard look at your lifestyle and commitments. Unless you make some more lasting changes, you could be back at breaking point again before you know it.

Think about your family routines and responsibilities – could a reshuffle of roles between you and your partner take the pressure off? Or perhaps calling in some extra help with childcare or housework might be the way forward, whether on a regular basis, or every now and again to give you some much needed time out from keeping home and family running smoothly.

working parent avoid the crash

Work life re- shuffle

Look at your work life. Are you overloaded or being treated unfairly? Then it’s time to talk to your boss or HR about adjusting your workload or ensuring your rights as an employee are being upheld. Could flexible working ease the demands on you, and restore your work/life balance? Or, if you’re so unhappy at work that it can’t be fixed, maybe now is the time to sign up with a recruitment consultancy, update your CV and start looking for something better suited to your needs.

How’s your health?

Consider your health too, both mental and physical. A healthier lifestyle, with some relatively small changes in diet and exercise, could improve your mental wellbeing, and being fitter and healthier will put you in a better position to cope with life’s stresses. But stress can be a serious issue for your health, so you might need something more intensive to get you back on the right track long term. Think about whether a visit to the GP is in order. Some professional advice, short-term medication or counselling could give you the support you need to keep stress levels down while you’re making the other changes to your work and home life.

Lessons to learn

This might be a one-off; a brief blip in your otherwise contented life. But this episode could also provide a lesson for the future – a warning that you should be on your guard against stress and the risk of a ‘crash’. So, be aware of the symptoms and causes of stress in your life, and learn to recognise the signs that you’re on a downward spiral. If you spot these again, take urgent action to give yourself a break, rather than a breakdown. And then get longer term help and support to adjust your life’s patterns and reduce stresses. It will benefit everyone who relies upon you, and just as importantly, you owe it to yourself.














About Alison McKay

About Alison McKay

Alison McKay is a charity PR professional with over 15 years' experience in full-time, part-time and jobshare roles. Since being made redundant while on maternity leave, she has divided her time between working for a local museum, freelance and volunteer writing, and being chief wrangler to a two-year-old mud-magnet and an almost-seven-year-old wannabe dog-care worker with a penchant for hair accessories. Alison's hobbies include yoga, reading cookery books and putting away just enough clean laundry to keep the pile below 3ft tall.

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