The ABCs of Parenting and Stress Management: 26 Ways to Get Through the Most Trying Days

Not feeling very “Powerful” today?
By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Trying to cope with a toddler tantrum on an hour’s worth of sleep?

Battling with your teen about staying out to late?

Nobody said that parenting was going to be easy, but come on!

Don’t you wish that someone gave you the manual for parenting and stress management when your little bundle of joy was born?

Arm yourself from A to Z with 26 tips that will get you through the most trying days:

A- Accept the things you can not change: Single parenting? Step parenting? ADHD parenting? Just dealing with time crunches, making lunches, bunches and bunches of bills? It’s important to recognize that there are some things you can not control, surrender, move on.

B- Breathe: When things get hairy, scary, and you feel like you can barely hold on, take a step back, breathe, and be calm.

C- Count your blessings. Even though you have the weight of the world on you right now and feel far from compassionate for others who have things much worse than you do, there is some value in taking a moment to look at the things that are going right today, such as your child’s tantrum-free morning or how your spouse took out the trash…

D- Decompress. Believe it or not, there are many who do not know how to take a break. Some parents don’t even realize that it’s okay to take a break. Take time out to read a book, go out or simply hang out with family or friends. A happy parent is much more productive than a crabby one.

E- Eat nutritiously. We take care of everyone but ourselves…working, chauffeuring, monitoring homework, cooking and so on. Remember to eat breakfast and be sure to eat more than just a power bar for lunch! Nourish your body so you can nourish your mind so you won’t go crazy on top of everything else.

F- Focus on the big picture. Does it really matter that your child insists on wearing his Spiderman pajamas to the supermarket again? You’ve heard it before. Don’t sweat the small stuff (and yes, this is small). When choosing between Spidy and sanity, choose sanity.

G- Go to the gym. Do yoga. Step outside and take a long walk. Take a martial arts or dance class. Just get your body moving. Exercise will not only keep you fit and healthy to do the best parenting job you can (not to mention keep up with the kids) it will also help to clear your mind.

H- Hang up the phone. Sometimes we spend more time on the phone than with the kids, and then we wonder why they act up while we’re on the phone. Reserve some “family only” time so that the kids won’t feel so deprived of your attention and when you do need to converse on the phone, you’ll be able to without interruption.

I- Identify the kind of family you are aiming to be. Have you ever sat down with your family and actually discussed the kind of family you aim to be? Respectful? Kind? Supportive? Discuss those Powerful Words! Get your family together, discuss and create the vision as a team so everyone is on board and knows what they are trying to achieve.

J- Joke around. Don’t take everything so seriously! What makes your hair turn gray today will likely make your face turn beet red with laughter one day down the road.

K- Kiss, hug and show affection. Affection is such a simple thing that can make your family feel more secure as opposed to feeling like they need a therapist! Set the precedent for your family and show that you appreciate one another.

L- Listen to your family. Your children have great stories to tell. Your significant other has dreams about the future. When we listen, we expand our minds and catch all the subtleties that otherwise pass us by. Listening enables us to know what to say and when to say it.

M- Make time for family fun. Shuttling between extracurricular activities all the time? Remember that it’s important to take time out for family fun. Take a vacation, have a family game night, go for a bike ride together. It’s important to do something together and that everyone will enjoy.

N- Negotiate time for the couple. We all love spending time with the kids, but it is just as important for the couple to spend private time together. Rekindle your love every week, whether it’s going out to dinner alone or spending time cuddling while the kids are at Grandma’s house.

O- Open your mind to “the opposition.” You and your partner are a united force, however you may not always agree. Take time to listen to the points of the other person and come to a compromise.

P- Play with your friends. Go to a movie, play golf, go to lunch! Having some adult company, conversation and laughs will make the days more pleasant and manageable.

Q- Quiet your mind. Fretting over the past is as constructive as nailing a cube of Jello to the wall. When it’s time to relax, turn off your mind and let the day go.

R- Recruit some outside support. Need help reaching your personal and family goals? Enlist the help of a coach who will help you deal with present challenges and create action plans to make the most of your future.

S- Simplify your family’s schedule. There really is no need to commit your child to 40 different activities per week. One or two activities during the school year is okay. Really.

T- Teach the lessons you want them to know. Schools do not teach character development, parents do. When you teach your child about respect and teamwork, you get respect and teamwork.

U- Utilize your resources. Did the grandparents volunteer to baby-sit? Did your neighbor offer to tutor your kids in that math you don’t understand? Take them up on their offers. Reaching out for help enables us to collect ourselves and do the things we do well.

V- Value your time. Learn to say “no.” It’s important to be involved and volunteer your time to help with fundraisers and so on, but don’t overextend yourself. It takes time away from your family and robs you of your sanity.

W- Wipe the tears. Yours and theirs. Holding grudges or letting anger and misery simply fester under the surface builds resentment and uneasiness. This is a legacy you do not want to leave.

Y- Yearn to grow and learn. Just because you are a parent does not mean that you no longer can work on expanding your own mind and achieving your own goals. You may need to modify your ambition, but you can still express yourself, volunteer, take courses or even teach!

Z- Zzzzzzzz. Try to make up for that lost sleep. Parenting always seems easier when you are rested.

Have a Powerful (and stress-free) Week!


Webmaster’s Note: This article was first published in Bay State Parent Magazine. Dr. Robyn is an award-winning columnist, honored by Parenting Publications of America, who writes for that publication.


14 Responses

  1. […] person. There are days when the stress will seem to be too much too bear. I ran across a post from Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman which presents the ABCs of parenting. Now I would be the last person to simplify things to match the alphabet, to be honest – […]

  2. This was a beautiful email I received about this article on parenting and stress management…

    (Printed with permission)

    This article and response was previously printed in Bay State Parent Magazine.

    Dr. Robyn

    Dear Dr. Robyn,

    I would just like to take a moment to thank you for your great article in the Bay State Parent, September edition.

    I have two children, one on the Autism Spectrum (Aspger’s), and another with ADHD.

    For over 8 years, I have been defending, advocating, and doing whatever is possible to help my children to not feel like they have a “problem” but that they are unique and special in their own ways.

    I read your article, and laughed and shed a few tears as I read it, because not a day goes by that I wonder what can I do to make things better, and how can I balance both of the challenges they have without the other feeling like they do not have my undivided time.

    I also went on to your website, and found your program to be one that I will like to be able to tryout. At this time, the only computer access that I have is through my work, so I am hoping down the road I will be able to be a part of it.

    In the meantime, I would just like to thank you for a informative, and honest look at something every parent faces daily. I look forward to being a part of your success in the near future.

    Thank you, again for letting me share this with you.


    Robyn Yalian, Clinton, MA

  3. I just left a response on the other linked blog about this, as it truly is beautiful and indicative of the poignancy words can have…As I said there…what at first glance may seem ‘trite or transparent’ from a solutions-based approach, quickly is revealed to be poignant and purposeful and of use to all.

    (I think I’ve used up my alliteration quotient for the day! 😉

    Thanks for this, and ALL the work you do…you’re a stellar writer and we clearly need to team somehow in a content swap, as I’ve said before…Brava!

  4. Thanks, Amy!!! Thank you for the work you do!

    Let’s get in touch!

    Dr. Robyn

  5. Lara from said:

    Dr. Robyn,

    Your work is inspirational. It is our pleasure to share it with other people. Thank YOU!

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  12. Many thanks for this comprehensive list. I’ll try to use it as thoroughly as possible and I hope it will help me cope with my stress. Having kids on one hand is really amusing and incredible feeling but on the other it is a big responsibility and very stresful.

    I’m sure that if I try to hold on to that least at least some of my stressed will be reduced.

    thank you again

    Mika C.

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