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6 Questions To Ask Yourself When Parenting Feels Hard

Image of a mom and her daughter sitting back to back angry with each other. Bella Luna Family
Christine Brown

Christine Brown

I came up with the ‘6 Questions To Ask Yourself When Parenting Feels Hard’ checklist to help myself to stop the downward parenting spiral and now I am sharing it with you!

When I meet with parents for sleep consulting or a child behavior consultation, parents are exhausted and a lot of the time, worn down from parenting. Maybe parenting feels really hard for you right now and let’s be real, maybe you aren’t enjoying it. It’s ok – all parents feel this way sometimes.

There have been many phases where I wasn’t enjoying motherhood and oh the guilt. I mean, I did IVF to have my twins and *really* wanted to be a Mom. How could I not enjoy every minute?

You know why? Because I’m human. And you are too. Sometimes parenting feels hard. And it’s ok.

Normally when I feel like this, one or more areas of my life are out of alignment. When my needs aren’t being met, it’s harder for me to serve my family and friends. It’s hard for me to be patient. That whole, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

I also remind myself on a regular that I can’t change my children. The only control that we have to positively institute change is to change our behaviors and how we react to our children’s behaviors. When we feel better, we can approach parenting intentionally versus reactionary. This helps us show up for those we love in the way that we want to! This is where we find our joy again!

If you find yourself in a place where parenting feels hard, you have mom burn-out, your child’s behavior is challenging and you aren’t finding any joy, I want you review the 6 questions to ask yourself when parenting feels hard. These questions will help figure out what’s going on so you can feel better and enjoy parenting more!

#1 – Am I meeting my sleep needs? 

If we aren’t meeting our sleep needs of 7-9 hours of sleep each night, this is going to decrease our patience and coping skills. Sleep is life!

These parent sleep tips may help you to get better rest, which will help with EVERYTHING else!

Our children’s behavior is dependent on how well they are sleeping.

Think about how you feel when you are overtired…short tempered and impatient are my top 2 feelings when I’m not getting adequate rest.

Now think about our children, who have undeveloped brains and are working on their emotional regulation. Overtired definitely amps up our children’s negative behaviors. If we aren’t all sleeping well, life is going to be harder.  

ACTION ITEM: If you aren’t sleeping well because your child isn’t sleeping well, maybe we need to work on that together

#2 – Are My Basic Needs Met?

If you are busy feeding everyone else and taking care of all of their needs, you may be putting yourself last. And the first things to go tend to be our basic needs, which are really non-negotiable if you want to feel better and enjoy parenting.

Think of yourself like a houseplant! Ask yourself:

  • Have I eaten healthy food?
  • Am I drinking enough water?
  • Have I been out in the sun?
  • When was the last time I moved my body enough to get the endorphins flowing?

We have to meet our most basic needs to feel well and to have the patience that’s required to be the type of parent that we want to be.

ACTION ITEM: When you are feeling drained, take this list out and slowly move through them. Eat a quick healthy meal, like a smoothie or avocado toast. Slug down a big glass of water. Take a walk outdoors to get sun and your body moving.

#3 – Am I filling my cup with things that I enjoy?

Between work, keeping up with household duties and parenting, we can feel completely drained. Especially if you aren’t getting enough sleep or taking care of your basic needs.

But here’s the thing, if we feel like we are constantly on the adulting / parenting dreadmill and we don’t have anything for ourselves that sparks our joy, it’s going to be hard to feel in alignment.

So next time someone asks you out for a girls’ night or a yoga class, say “YES”! Even if you feel tired and watching NetFlix seems like all you can muster. You’ll get energy once you get out!

Doing things that you enjoy will bring you more energy and zest for life, which will make it easier to parent in a way that you feel good about because you’ll be happier! 

This type of self-care doesn’t have to be bubble baths or spa days. (although those are great too!) I love those things, but heading to dinner with my friends and laughing or working on a jigsaw puzzle, while I listen to a psychological thriller, bring me so much happiness! It allows me to wake up the next day, ready to take on parenting.

ACTION ITEM: If you are married or have a partner, sit down with them to come up with a plan on how you can support each other in taking time to take care of things that will bring you joy. Plan time to support each other with this weekly.

#4 – When was the last time we had a date night?

Normally when I’m feeling like parenting is hard, my husband and I may not be connected. All relationships have their peaks and valleys, right? In the busyness of being parents and adults, sometimes tending to our relationship becomes just another thing to do. But we all crave this closeness, so putting in some effort is totally worth it!

When Mommy and Daddy (or whatever your family dynamic!) are happy, our kiddos are happier too. 

This doesn’t mean that you need a 5 course dinner and/or a night away (although this would be great and I highly recommend it if you can swing it!) Get creative and plan an in-home date night!

ACTION ITEM: Date night doesn’t have to be weekly, but if you can do an at-home date night at least 2 times a month, your relationship will be much happier! Check out these Date Night In curated boxes that take the planning out of it and give time for reconnection!

#5 – Is the way I’m feeling more than just drained? 

Have you been in a dark place for some time and even the steps above aren’t helping? (It happens to all of us – myself included) If so, have you talked with your doctor? For women especially, our hormones can go out of whack, which can make everything feel more amplified or dulled. Having a doctor or a naturopath do bloodwork to get insight into what’s going on, could be a great first step.

Have you considered talking with a therapist about how you are feeling? Therapy can be a difficult step for some but talking through your feelings and coming up with coping strategies can bring back the lightness and enjoyment in life and parenting. Personal growth can be challenging, but it is 100% worth it!

ACTION ITEM: Book an appointment with your doctor and/or a therapist to work on any underlying health or emotional challenges that are making you feel less than ideal.

#6 – Do I have the tools to be the parent that I want to be?

When my twins turned 3, I had no idea how to handle their new, fresh behaviors. I found myself defaulting to the way that I was raised. My parents did a good job, but I knew that there were things that I wanted to do differently. I realized at that point, I didn’t have the tools to be the parent I wanted to be. I enrolled in a child behavior certification program to learn tools to put into place at home and also to be able to teach the families that we work with. This is one of the best parenting and professional decisions I’ve made because I’ve seen how miraculous the changes can be!

Sleep

If your child isn’t sleeping well, consider working with a sleep consultant. They can help figure out how to help your little one to be better rested. It is way more fun parenting a well-rested child! And parenting when you are well rested makes it easier to be calm and patient!

ACTION ITEM: If you could use a helping hand figuring it all out, schedule a discovery call to talk about working together.

Behavior

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just wave our magic wand and magically improve our children’s behavior? Once I’m back to reality, I remember that I can’t change my children’s behavior. I can only change myself and the way that I communicate with my children. When we change the way that we communicate, our children respond by changing their behavior. There are lots of tools that we can put into place that will help.

ACTION ITEM: If you need help with creating your own toolbox, schedule a child behavior consultation with me and we can get a plan in place to improve your communication and relationship with your little one, while also improving their behavior.

I hope the ‘6 Questions To Ask Yourself When Parenting Feels Hardchecklist gives you some ideas of where to start to make parenting and life feel easier! You’ve got this! We are here to support you if you need help!

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