Everyone's stress cup runneth over in 2020, and that is OK. What is not OK, according to experts we talked to, is to hide it from your kids when you feel overwhelmed.
"What a wonderful opportunity because you get two for one," says clinical psychologist Dr. Candice Norcott. She adds, "By taking care of yourself you get to take care of two people. So, by modeling how to handle big emotions, it's not about hiding your stress or hiding that you're anxious. It's about saying, 'Hey, ya know, I get upset, too, and I get really frazzled, too, and here is what I do to calm myself down.'"
Dr. Norcott says it's a great chance to involve your kids and ask them if they want to try your coping mechanisms with you.
She says it's a way to create "a culture of wellness" so that you don't need to wait for tough times to talk about mental health.
One thing to stay away from, Dr. Norcott cautions, is to tag emotions as good or bad.
Emotions are feelings and sometimes they simply get too big to manage, and that is fine. It happens to everyone. It's how we deal with them that matters. Talking about that can really help kids, she says.
And forget about the illusion of parenting perfection.
Katie Lear, LCMHC, RPT, RDT, a counselor and play therapist, says trying to act perfectly is not what it's about. "In fact, I don't even know if it would be helpful to have a parent who never, ever feels overwhelmed because how are kids going to learn how to deal with their overwhelming feelings?", she says.
Lear says setting regular time aside where your kids know it's OK to check in with you about their feelings is important as a type of temperature check for the family.
See the full episode of Mom2Mom with Dr. Candice Norcott and Katie Lear here. It's an important conversation all parents need to hear.