Stressed? Or not coping? Is there a difference?

Early childhood High school Primary school Practical parenting
A man talking on a phone, juggling two infants

Stress – we’ve all felt it. It’s the tension or strain we feel when we’re faced with a challenge, especially if we don’t have the resources (time, money, energy, knowledge) to deal with the challenge.

Being a parent is one role that can cause a lot of stress. Caring for a demanding little human, while juggling other responsibilities and having limited time, money, and sleep is a perfect recipe for stress.

Is the stress of being a parent a bad thing? Not necessarily. Basically, stress rallies the troops and prepares us for battle. When you’re stressed, hormones released in your body ensure your brain has energy, your blood pressure and heart rate increase to prepare you for action, and your metabolism is doing what it needs to do to give you energy. Because of the important role stress plays, our bodies and minds are designed to experience, respond to, and recover from stress. In other words, stress isn’t usually a problem, in moderation.

So when is stress a problem?

Stress is a problem if it’s constant, or if it’s so frequent that you don’t get a chance to recover. It’s a problem if it builds up so much that you’re always on edge, you feel you can’t cope, and you’re not sure when it will end. In these situations, the effects of stress on the mind and body can become harmful and affect your ability to function and your relationships with your family.

It may be some comfort to know that if you’re experiencing overwhelming stress, you’re not the only one. More than half (53%) of the parents who took part in our research said they had found it difficult to cope with the stress of being a parent.

But the good news is you don’t need to struggle alone! There’s a lot of support available in the community; you just need to ask for it. Our research showed most friends and family want to help parents who are having a tough time. So don’t be afraid to reach out and let someone know how you’re feeling. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you do.

There are also lots of services to help families who are having a tough time. The oneplace community services directory helps you search for the support you need in your local area.

You can also join the Talking Families Facebook community to connect with like-minded parents sharing stories and helpful tips when family life gets crazy.

Last Updated: 25 June 2020