3 ways to avoid becoming an emotionally drained parent zombie

Kinderling News & Features

Juggle is a word that comes up a lot in parenting. But perhaps the most difficult area to find balance in, is the emotional juggle. Emotional demands come from everyone at once, and of course your have emotional needs too. How do we meet the needs of those we love, but also take care of ourselves? 

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz is a mum, life coach, meditation teacher, and author of Happy Mama: A guide to finding yourself again. She explains how to take care of your kids, your partner, and you! 

How do I give quality time to my kids?

Amy recommends listening to this beautiful interview on motherhood with Jada Pinkett Smith. Jada says that before she gets up in the morning, she asks herself what each individual in her family needs for that day. The important think to remember is to also contemplate what YOU need today. 

Often, we’re too busy thinking about getting everyone to swimming lessons, taking the library books back, and when you need to cook dinner. But taking a moment to pause and consider what the aim of the day should be for you can transform the way you show support for your family. 

“Research has shown our children only need eight minutes of our fully present time per day. Wow. Eight minutes is all but we're talking nothing else,” Amy says. “You are not thinking about your e-mail list, you are not folding the washing, you're not doing anything else. If you can give each of your children eight minutes of complete and full attention so they are seen and heard and understood then you're nailing it.” 

Ask yourself once a day: What does my child need in those eight minutes? 

How can I share proper time my partner? 

It’s easy to snap at your partner after a long slog of a day. To cultivate patience with each other, Amy suggests that you both have a moment between dinner, bath time and putting the kids to bed, to breathe. Instead of rushing onto the next chore, or into a serious conversation, give each other a little space. Then you’re more prepped to support each other properly. 

She also advises to avoid lumping your partner in with the rest of your ‘To Do’ list. 

“Most of us think that what our partners are doing is asking for more from us … ‘Oh great, I've been giving to the kids all day and now I need to give to you?’” 

“If you for a moment think about it, that [they’re] wanting to give to you; to support you, to show you support and emotional availability, rather than asking more from you, then it changes the way you look at it. You look at it as receiving,” Amy advises. “This isn't something else you have to do. You can just sit there and be. It's just this slight mindset change but it's huge.” 

Listen to Amy on The Juggle Series:

Amy recommends being really strict in carving out quality alone time with your partner regularly, because that’s how partnerships work best.

“It is so easy to turn on Netflix and switch our brains off and then just fall into bed at the end of the night. We have to set it in stone otherwise it won't get done. We're just too exhausted, there's too much going on,” Amy says. 

Try to book in weekly quality time, even if it’s just at home without the TV on, to really check in with each other. Schedule it in to your calendar  and talk about what you need. 

How can I find any time for myself? 

“For a really long time self-care for mums in particular was somehow tied up with this image of getting a manicure or a pedicure or going to the day spa. This is not what self-care for me is about. Self-care is awareness of yourself and taking care of yourself. Self-care might be sitting down to eat your lunch,” Amy explains. 

You need to be consciously aware of yourself so you know what you require during the day so you can avoid biting off someone’s head at the end of the day.  Amy says that after the day is over, dinner is eaten and the kids are in bed, your priority should be to stop and think about yourself first.

Instead of constantly being on the go, doing the directing your attention from the kids to the washing to the next thing on your to-do list, take a moment to breathe.   

“What we really need to do is kind of segment our lives a little bit more because there are so many demands on us,” Amy says. “When you do have those moments where [the kids are] quiet, they're asleep or some [time] has opened up for you, you really need to stop thinking about your to do list and looking around the house at the next fire to put out. This is what we do as women - we kind of scan the horizon for the next thing we need to do is. It's a learned habit of never being able to stop.” 

“When you're really in the throes of that early parenthood and you are juggling so much, I think self-care has to be tiny. Yes, once a month to go and do something on your own is really important to try and book that in. But if every day you can just consciously stop … it's all it takes to actually just think about yourself and it is life changing.” 

It's an awareness of yourself that we need to start cultivating when our kids are really little because otherwise we get into this habit of always putting ourselves last and that's when we burn out.”