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Parenting isn’t an easy job. If someone tells you it is, they obviously aren’t a parent! As a parent, you may be involved in many things – caring for the home, children, working outside of the home, and possibly volunteering. You may not have the time to care for your own needs, but it’s important that you do; a happy parent equals a happy family.

Take time out to pursue your own hobby or interest. Nearly every parenting book will espouse the need of parents to pursue some of their own interests to avoid burn-out. Perhaps you played a sport before becoming a parent. Being active will keep you healthy, show your children how to be healthy through activity, and increase endorphins in your body which will improve your mood.

Include your children in your hobby. Maybe you loved to roller skate as a teen. It may be time to take up skating again. Get skates for the whole family and everyone can have fun together.

Maybe your interests lie in another direction. Are you fixing up a room in the house? Children can learn how to help with do-it-yourself projects as well. They generally like painting even if they can’t reach the ceiling. Why not let them help? You’ll be able to share your interest with your child and get more accomplished at the same time.

Give yourself a time out. This might be associated primarily with disobedient children, but time outs can be a great idea for helping you to de-stress, which can definitely improve how you feel. This can also help you be a better parent because you’ll be calmer and more able to handle your children.

How do you know when you need a time out? Here are some indicators:

* You might talk louder
* You may clench your teeth
* You may feel your heart race
* You may feel your muscles tighten

If your children are safe, try leaving the situation. You can also ask another adult to keep an eye on them until you’ve cooled off. Go to your room or the bathroom where you can be alone for a few minutes. Take some deep breaths and then call a friend to help you talk thing through before returning to the stress-causing situation. When you’ve calmed down, you’ll be able to handle the situation better.

It’s important to realize you can’t do things for others – whether partner, children, or boss – if you’re tired, worn out, and frazzled. The old saying goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” That may apply to parents in general, so do what you can to make yourself happy. Experts agree a happy parent equals a happy family.

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