Stress Relievers Parents Can Do With Children

Reduce Stress In Both Of You!

Happy family walk in nature
Nature walks are a great way to relieve stress with your kids. Here are some more. Hoxton/Tom Merton/Hoxton/Getty Images

While time spent with children can be fun and fulfilling much of the time, it’s no secret that parenting can be stressful. (In fact, parents may face an increased risk of depression because of the unique stresses of parenting.) While lifestyle factors play a role in stress, and if you’re a parent you need to be mindful of self care to stay at your best, it’s also important to have several stress relievers you can practice with your children (so you’ll actually have time to do them regularly) so you can relieve stress while occupying and enriching their experience at the same time.

The following are some great stress relievers you can generally practice while caring for children:

Drawing

Kids generally love to draw, but expressing oneself artistically can be great for adults, too! (And research shows that artistic expression is a good stress relief tool, even for those who don't feel themselves to be artistically inclined; read more about this research.) The next time you’re feeling stressed, get out some crisp new crayons (or even your ratty old ones) and create beautiful pictures with your kids. You can work through your feelings in an abstract way and create something beautiful in the process, and your children can create their own beauty.

Walking

You can enjoy the benefits of exercise and let your children enjoy the scenery (or exercise along with you) by walking with them. You can put them in a stroller if they’re very small, or let them ride a bike or scooter next to you if they’re bigger.

(Or, for a less brisk, more meandering walk, let them just walk with you.) This is a great one because it gets you both outside, enjoying nature (or the view of some nice buildings), and away from most frustrations and responsibilities. (If your little ones don’t want to sit quietly in a stroller and enjoy the scenery, you can bring a cup of Cheerios or another small snack to occupy them.)

Blowing Bubbles

This one can keep your little ones happy, giving you a break, and can take your mind off of what’s stressing you if you let it. There’s something almost meditative about watching the bubbles drift up, and there’s real joy in watching the wonder in the eyes of small children enjoying the sight of bubbles, or the playfulness of slightly older children racing to pop them.

Enjoying Music

Music has some extremely useful stress relief properties, and can provide fun opportunities to bond with your children as well. You can sing or dance together and blow off steam, or just relax and enjoy listening. Keeping music on in the background throughout your day can keep you and your children in a more peaceful mood, or get you into a more playful one, depending on what you play.

Social Support

Doing fun things with friends and including your children (and theirs) can supply you with a supportive social outlet, and your children with play dates and opportunities to create friendships and learn social skills.

(Most moms are well aware of the importance of having other ‘mom’ friends, but sometimes we get so busy and overscheduled that we forget to nurture these relationships and draw on this stress reliever when we need it most.)

Here are some more effective stress relief strategies for parents:

 

Journaling:

There are many wonderful benefits to journaling, and you can enjoy them while letting your children explore their artistic side. If you have older children, they can journal along with you, writing in their journals as you write in yours. If your kids are younger (and not yet writing), they can keep a picture journal, either expressing their feelings and frustrations through art, drawing pictures of their favorite things, or even practicing learning their letters.


Here are some fun and effective ways to use journaling for stress relief.

Gardening:

You can relieve a lot of stress through the act of gardening, and it can be a great activity for your children as well. Even small children can help you tend to a garden if they’re able to lift a small watering can, and can also have a great time digging in the dirt. Watching seeds grow into plants can be fun and educational for young kids, and older children can take pride in making their home more beautiful by tending to the yard.
Read more about the benefits of gardening for stress relief.

Yoga:

Increase flexibility, improve your health, and reduce stress with yoga, and let your kids enjoy the same benefits by joining you. With them around, you may not be able to get the same type of workout or achieve a true meditative state, but it can still be a bonding experience that relieves stress and encourages health for all of you.


Read more about the benefits of yoga for stress relief.

 

Playing With Pets:

There are proven stress relief benefits of pets, and pets can also be great fun for kids. Playing catch with a Frisbee-loving dog, gently stroking a cat, feeding hay to guinea pigs, or even watching fish swim in an aquarium can help you relieve stress, and can also teach your children to care for others.


Read more about the different ways that pets can help with stress relief.

 

Just Relaxing:

Laying in the grass or a hammock and finding shapes in the clouds or constellations in the stars can also be a great way to relax, while nurturing your children’s creativity at the same time. Basking in the sun (during warm seasons) or sitting before a cozy fire (during cold seasons) and just relaxing, or reading a good book, can be very relaxing for you and your kids. And while you can’t always get kids, especially small children, to want to slow down when you want them to, reading can help, and just slowing down can be good for you both.
Read more about the importance of leisure time for stress management.

If you find yourself getting overwhelmed and needing to relieve stress quickly, here are some excellent ways to calm down quickly when stress sneaks up on you.

Source:

Evenson RJ, Simon RW. Clarifying the Relationship Between Parenthood and Depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. December 2005.

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