With more technology and modern conveniences than ever before, why does it seems as though parenting is getting harder? Like most parents these days, your house is probably full of gadgets like smart phones, tablets, computers, smart watches to "increase productivity" and smart speakers so you can grocery shop while you're on the toilet. There's even vacuums that clean for you while you're not even home. Our mothers and grandmothers 30 years ago would not have believed any of these things would be possible! With this abundance of technology, one would think that the daily life of a modern parent would be a little bit easier than that of the generations before us, but sadly it seems as though the opposite may be true. Instead of enjoying the moment of peace and quiet a parent might have alone (for once!) in the bathroom or once the kids are asleep, all he/she may be thinking about is what can be accomplished from their smart gadget while the kids aren't attached to their ankles. The ability to be able to do just about anything from your gadget puts a lot of added pressure on parents. Technology that is meant to make our lives easier is actually making our lives more stressful.
So why is technology meant to help us be more productive actually stressing us out even more?
Fight or Flight. When we are facing a challenge or threat, our stress system releases a stress hormone called cortisol. It's not actually a bad thing, but rather a hormone that is intended to provide us with an increased drive and focus to deal with the stressor. Our minds and bodies are very smart and have evolved and adapted over thousands of years to make us into the amazing creatures that we are today, equipped to deal with both physical and mental obstacles. However, the advance in technology has happened so quickly that human minds have not had enough time to fully adapt to it. So this well oiled and running stress response that would normally happen during actual stressful situations is constantly firing as long as our minds know that these gadgets are beckoning us with their buzzes, flickers, dings and pulses.
Excess cortisol in our body over a prolonged period of time can cause damage and even lead to certain disorders and illnesses. So does this mean we should completely ditch our gadgets? Of course not! They certainly are life changing and when used appropriately can indeed increase productivity and enrich our lives. One could even debate that smart devices are so widely used that people who do not have one are actually more detached from society than those who use them.
Balance, limits and setting boundaries
It all comes down to balance. Just as parents set limits for their children's screen time, personal screen time limits should be set and followed for ourselves as well. Set times during the day when you can go screen and gadget free. Maybe it is while you're preparing and eating meals and during bedtime. If you have time for it in your schedule, set aside some "me time" where you can completely shut off your gadgets and be free of any distractions. Give yourself a break from scrolling and let your mind wander; Allow your brain to rest. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, even if it is just for a few minutes at a time. There's a reason we tend to come up with our best ideas while in the shower. These days it seems as though the shower is the only place where you're free from distraction! Minds are meant to go through periods of boredom; That is when our brains come up with the most creative solutions because you're essentially on autopilot, allowing your brain to switch over to de-stress mode.
Reduce your triggers
Everyone is different, and everyone has different things that trigger their stress levels. Be conscious of what those things are and make steps to eliminate or reduce them. Some other ways to reduce stress is saying "no" to things or people who cause you extra stress. Instead commit to doing things that re-charge you - like going for a walk, spending time in the park or in nature, eating healthy, exercising and surrounding yourself with people who lift you up. Getting proper sleep is also very important. Sleep is hard if you're the parent of young children, but just remember that housework can wait until morning - sleep is more important than laundry or dishes!
The biggest takeaway is to remember that you are enough! You are doing your best. Raising little humans is just plain hard and feeling stressed is normal. But eliminating unnecessary stressors is the key to being happy and being the best that you can be for your children and your family!