If you have school-aged children, the COVID-19 shutdown may have elevated or heightened stressors as you attempted to juggle home, work, and school. And with summer break comes the added intensity of juggling summer schedules and taking advantage of warmer temps with recreation. Today’s Sleep Coach’s Corner talks about the importance of keeping your cool.
Mothers in crisis
While this scenario applies to all parents, it’s been undeniable that moms are burned out in this country due to the pandemic. The New York Times printed an article with the headline, “America’s Mothers Are in Crisis,” in which this statement stood out:” The economic disaster of the pandemic is directly related to maternal stress levels, and by extension, the stress levels of American children.”
Let’s take a moment to unpack that statement. Being a mom or a full-time caregiver to children is often stressful. Add a full-time job, household duties, and a pandemic to the mix, and we’re at a boiling point. Even the calmest of moms have found themselves reaching breaking points under the pressures of the pandemic.
You’ve got to keep your cool.
Like mother, like father, like child
When you were pregnant, you may have heard people say that a stressed mom makes for a stressed-out baby. And while it’s easy to brush this seemingly wives’ tale off, the science behind the statement is genuine.
Trust me, I know throwing out a casual statement like “You’ve got to keep your cool” seems flippant and is equally easier said than done – I’ve been there. The first few weeks of summer break are a big adjustment for myself and my daughters, as all of us have to negotiate the ins and outs of having our regular routines abruptly change. Add frustration on top of that, and you get siblings bickering which, in turn, stresses me out – it becomes a vicious cycle of frustration.
In a combined effort, Pennsylvania State University, the University of California – Los Angeles, and the University of California – Riverside conducted a Collaborative Family Study and released findings in 2016. The study included children between ages three and nine and their parents. Parents completed questionnaires regarding stress and stressors, and researchers observed the children’s behavior during an in-home or research center evaluation. Researchers found a direct correlation between parental stress and child behavioral problems. As stressors increased, behavior problems escalated, and when stress levels decreased, behavior problems dissipated.
No one’s perfect
I share this information as a fellow parent, as prone to stress as every other parent out there. It’s not realistic to think that parenting will be a stress-free endeavor. But, it’s essential to be mindful of how your stress affects your little ones.
As a sleep coach, the relational impact of parental stress on children is significant in the sleep training process. While no one’s life will ever be devoid of any potential stressors, families planning on undertaking sleep training must be in a good space. Understandably, many parents are sleep deprived and at their wits’ end when they contact me, but I encourage them – and you – to be calm as you enter into the baby sleep training process.
The calmer and more confident you are entering toddler sleep training, the smoother the transition will be. Keeping your stress levels down will help keep your little one calmer through the process. Remember, sleep training is about changing habits, and change can be difficult for anyone, no matter how young or old. The more confident you are going in, the better your results will be on the other side.
If the thought of attempting sleep training on your one is stressful, consider calling me for support. I’m not called a sleep coach for nothing! Schedule a complimentary sleep assessment to see if sleep training is the right fit for your family – I look forward to speaking with you!