By Dr. Harvey Karp

If you feel stress, consumed – burned out – it’s not in your head. Once upon a time the cliché, “it takes a village” wasn’t a cliché… it was the normal way of life.

For millennia, families leaned on their ever-present family, friends, and neighbours to function and maintain sanity.

Today this huge round-the-clock job is all shouldered by two parents – sometimes only one – and it’s exhausting!

And, as bad as feeling run down feels to you…it’s not so great for your kids either. After all, no one can pour from an empty cup.

Here are the five basics that happy parents use to keep burnout at bay.

1. Prioritise sleep

Of course, sleep makes us feel rested, but did you know it also soothes the brain centre associated with stress and anxiety.

Plus, sleep boosts the immune system. You already set your child’s bedtime… now it’s time to set yours too! Get yourself in the ‘good sleep’ habit.

It helps to start your routine an hour before you hit the hay. Dim the lights, put your phone out of reach, turn on some rumbly white noise (like the sound of rain) softly in the background and do something to calm your mind and prepare it to catch some ZZZs, maybe a little breathing meditation (more on this below).

Once bub is off to sleep, it’s time for you to catch some Zzzs.

2. Make self-care a priority

Your happiness is the foundation for your happy home. That’s why a parent’s self-nurturing is more important than a spotless house.

Consider this your permission to put off some ‘pressing’ tasks like doing the dishes or folding the laundry and take a bit of time to refill your tank, like taking a bath, reading a book, or a date-night massage with your partner.

3. Take a deep breath

When there’s just no time for a bubble bath, a few minutes of slow breathing can quickly give you some peace. Breathing is the body’s automatic stress-reducer. When you have a calm moment, sit comfortably, totally relax all your tiny face muscles, drop your shoulders, and slowly breathe in as you silently count to five. Then, release your breath as you count to seven. Aaaaaah…

There’s no doubt about it, parenthood can be exhausting.

4. Accept an outstretched hand

Asking for help can help you fight burnout. One of the wonderful things about asking for help is that the giver feels happier too.

When you have a bit more wiggle-room in your life, you will feel good when you pay the favour back. When you’re feeling low and your support group isn’t available don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.

Today, it’s super-easy to find emotional support and virtual therapy online or consider other stress-reducers, like using a grocery delivery service or sharing a SNOO – the world’s first smart bassinet – which can calm crying and aid a baby’s sleep. It’s like having an extra pair of hands during the first six months of a baby’s life.

5. Finally, cut yourself some slack

Remember, perfection is only found in the dictionary. Parenthood requires extra flexibility.

When life gets crazy… it is time to put some of your ‘shoulds’ on hold!