How important is sleep for a parent?

Remember the days of staying up all night, pulling an all-nighter is what we used to call it in my day, to study for an exam the next day or getting up early to cram some more information into our heads? The partying all night with friends or the hours long chats on the phone that lasted the better part of the night? Remember being able to get by on just a couple hours of sleep per night? Well, those days are long gone, aren’t they?

Experts now believe that lack of sleep, or sleep deprivation, can cause serious disorders in our systems, some of which can have lifelong effects.

As parents, it is up to us to keep ourselves fit and healthy to take care of our children.

Most adults in today’s world need a minimum of 6 hours and a maximum of 9 hours of sleep a night. Some, of course, would be able to get by with less while some would need more.

Impaired judgment affects visual working memory. Visual working memory is what helps one tell the difference between relevant and irrelevant stimuli in the environment. Impaired judgment is the most common lash back of lack of sleep.

Thousands of road accidents a year are attributed to driver fatigue and, in many cases, the drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel.

Sleep deprivation also affects your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a lifelong ailment and is also associated with an increased risk of heart disorders and stroke.

Sleep disorder plays havoc with the neurotransmitters in the brain by mimicking the symptoms of depression, anxiety and mania. This, in turn, causes mood swings.

The levels of hormones that regulate appetite can also be affected by sleep deprivation. Leptin, the hormone that tells you how much stored fat you have, drops and that kick starts the hunger hormone, ghrelin, into action. You start to overeat. You put on weight.

In severe cases of sleep deprivation, hallucinations are a common occurrence. In some rare cases, this leads to paranoid schizophrenia.

All in all, better to sleep and get proper rest than to push yourself. The price is too high to pay as a parent.

 

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Neglect Me, Abuse Me!

Abuse aimed at a child can be of various types.

Physical and verbal abuse is self-explanatory. Neither of these need much explanation.

What about the mental abuse that a child goes through from being ignored or neglected? Nobody hitting them or shouting at them and yet there is abuse? Yes! Neglecting a child only makes them feel unwanted, unloved and unvalued.

All parents are guilty of neglecting a child at some point due to various factors in life. It could be a work related stress or a family, not related to the child in question, related stress. Either way, we are all guilty of it. Do we do it on purpose? No! Is there a way to avoid this? Yes!

First, look at your schedule. Check it against your child’s schedule. Is there some time during the week where you can have some quality time with your child? Put it into the schedule and adhere to it. Is there an activity that you can join in to spend some fun time with your child? Is there an activity available that both of you can enjoy together? Alone time and fun time ideally should be different slots simply because alone time is meant to cultivate conversation that would give you an insight to how they are growing up mentally. Fun time is meant to create those memories of laughter that will make you both smile when you reminisce years later.

The main point you should keep in mind is to never ignore the warning signs. If your child is becoming silent and withdrawn or is shunning social occasions, start paying attention to why this is happening. The opposite might also be true. They might become aggressive and attention seeking. Again, look at the why this is happening.

Above all, never give up on your child or yourself.

* Link to article that prompted this post – http://www.bangaloremirror.com/columns/you/Parentry-Uncommon-sense-Neglecting-your-child-is-abuse/articleshow/49805570.cms *

 

Living in a War Zone.

All parents have made that mistake of fighting in front of the children or of showing our anger for our spouse in front of them. Some of us have even taken it further by belittling our spouse to our children. It is easy to do this when one is angry. What you might not realize is the long term effect on the children.

Studies have shown that when a child grows up in an environment where all they see is parents fighting and abusing each other, they believe that this is the only way to behave and sort out issues. For them, fighting and being abusive is the only way to sort out problems with other people. Being abusive, whether emotional, verbal, psychological or physical is nothing out of the ordinary.

The best way to avoid this is to make sure that you follow a few simple rules.

Never fight in front of the children. If you are having an argument, take it to the bedroom where your children can’t see or hear you. People say the worst things in anger. Do you really want your child to hear you say those things to your spouse?

Never belittle your spouse to your child. Poisoning their mind against your spouse will not help in any way and will only turn them against your spouse. The next time your child is angry at them, they will blurt out what they heard from you without realizing what they are saying.

Learn to talk things out as opposed to having a fight. Sit down and talk like adults because that is what you are. You are the parents not the children.

If things are not getting any better, please seek professional help. Counseling may seem like a social taboo but if it saves your marriage and makes life better for your children, then what is the harm in it?

Observe yourself after your fight. Even if you are not saying anything in front of children, they are observing your body language which may speak volumes of what might have happened.  This can impact children immensely.  This may also confuse them because they are picking up different messages verbally and nonverbally.

Remember, as parents, your children depend on you and you need to live up to that.

 

A Happier Parent for the New Year (Part 2).

Picking up from where we left off in the first part of this article, being a happier parent in the New Year depends upon you, the parent. Here are tips that might help you.

Worrying about our child’s future is a given for any parent. It can’t be stopped but it can be toned down. Studies have shown that the most important thing for a child, fulfillment wise, is not which educational institute they attended but rather if they had a trusted adult in their lives. Stop rescuing children from failure. Only when a child fails do they learn the value of success.

Slow down! Take time out to just have some “open space” with your child. Instead of cramming in as many activities as you can into a day, take time off and just enjoy being with your child in an unstructured way.

Put your phone away. Get away from the constant calls, messages, alerts, etc. and just spend time with your child. They need your undivided attention too at times. If all your child sees is your head buried in the phone, this will be what they imitate. Before you know it, your child will be doing the same and there is a wall between you that can’t be breached.

Make sure you have an adequate support network. It helps enormously when you have like-minded people to ask for help. Remember to be there for them too when they need it.

Mainly, just enjoy being a parent with your child and savor the moments that come along. Yes, they grow up fast and there is a lot that needs to be done. However, their best memories will be of the times you spent with them as they grow up. Those times when it was just you and them with nothing else in between to distract. Take the time to make those memories with them.

 

* Link to article that prompted this post – http://mashable.com/2015/12/17/how-to-be-happy-parent/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link#lYlTMQRANiqp *

 

A Happier Parent for the New Year (Part 1).

As every parent knows, sometimes you just hate the situation. You stop for a minute and look around thinking, “What the hell did I get myself into here?”. It happens to every single parent. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. It just makes you human.

Here are some ways you can be a happier parent in the coming New Year.

Make a list every week, at least once, of three to five things you were grateful for the past week. It will surprise you how easy it is to forget to show gratitude and seeing them written down helps elevate your mood.

When people are stressed or in a stressful situation, they tend to hold their breath. Most of us are not even aware of doing so. So, whenever you catch yourself doing this, stop for a second and just breathe. Just a few deep breaths can help to lower the levels of the stress hormone Cortisol.

Forgive yourself. You are not a robot and will make mistakes. Accept them and move on. Do not sit there and agonize over something you cannot change. A lot of parents learn the value of the Serenity Prayer in the early years of parenting.

Be clear as to what you expect and please do not set the bar by comparing other parents to yourself. They have their own problems. You set the bar for yourself. Prioritize what is important to you.

Make time for yourself to do something just for you. It is ok to take a break. Remember, you are only human and need some pampering also.

Do not forget your partner. It is easy to drift apart but if you set aside some time every week to just be with them, things will be fine.

 

* Link to article that prompted this post – http://mashable.com/2015/12/17/how-to-be-happy-parent/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link#lYlTMQRANiqp *