You’ve been up since 5 a.m. Your toddler crawled into your bed in the middle of the night and kicked you about 36 times. You now have to get ready to go to work, get your older child ready for school and pack lunches. Then you have to leave work, take your 2 year old to the doctor, come home and figure out dinner before getting your 8 year old ready for soccer practice. When your tired and cranky husband arrives home from work at 7 p.m., he finds dirty dishes stacked to the ceiling, toys scattered all over the floor, and one exhausted, overwhelmed mother collapsed on the couch. Just about then, your 8 year old strolls casually into the living room and tells you, “Mom, I forgot. It’s my turn to take snacks to soccer practice tomorrow.”
It’s no secret that today’s world is more hectic than ever. Combine overscheduled children with the day-to-day rigors of family life, and it’s no wonder parents are feeling overwhelmed. If a parent you know and love is struggling to maintain a sense of sanity, there are ways you can help.
Offer to talk. Better yet, offer to listen. All humans need to vent periodically. One of the best gifts you can give an overwhelmed parent is simple -- the proverbial shoulder to cry on. After a good gab session, your friend may feel a bit lighter and better prepared to face the demands of being a parent.
Send over a care package. Have you ever had a night where you’ve just not felt like making dinner? Perhaps a better question might be, are you human? Of course there are times when dialing up the local pizza joint sounds way better than producing a kitchen full of dirty dishes. A simple way to help overwhelmed parents is to take them dinner. If you don’t want to make it yourself, buy it for them. As long as they don’t have to cook it or pay for it, they’ll appreciate the offer.
Offer to babysit. As much as parents love their children, sometimes they just need a break. Offer to watch your friend or family member’s tots for a few hours so that they can soak up some much-needed R&R. If you have children of your own, offer to swap babysitting duties more often so that each set of parents gets alone time.
Handle a chore or two. Perhaps their lawn is starting to look like it could be housing a family of antelopes; perhaps their kitchen is starting to look like an all-night diner whose chief dishwasher just called off. One of the best ways to help out overwhelmed parents is by offering to handle a chore for them. Offer to cut the grass, clean the house, wash the windows or do a few loads of laundry. Another suggestion would be to offer these services as gifts during the holidays. After all, most parents need more time and would choose a few hours of peace over another glimmering candle trinket.