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Would you cut yourself some slack?

How do you handle it when you hit parenting overwhelm?

“Cut yourself some slack!”

This luminous advice came from the bestie who was at the receiving end of my distraught rant.

I had hit parenting overwhelm. Like any parent, I have always tried to do the right thing by the child. Ticking boxes of academics, learning support, extracurriculars, leisure activity, outings – to the point that when night fell, I hit the crash button. And this was the routine – wake up, repeat, crash – to the

point my entire being rebelled.

I knew it was coming. For the longest time. It had been building up for months, even years. My body showed signs. The mind, wear and tear. Then finally the emotional unravelling. I knew how the cycle went. Difficult moments are part of any parenting journey. Only I tagged on others on the ride. Impatience at sluggish responses. Anger at the child for misbehavior/not listening. Guilt at oneself for losing it. Bleak anguish and frustration that lingered long after anger was vented. Topping it all with self-reproach that I didn’t measure up.

It is startling how aware I was through the cycle of anger, knew how it came from a place of depletion and still did nothing about it saying – ‘Where was the time?’ Anger snowballed into rage I’d never thought myself capable of. When I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore, I reached out to my best friend.

She heard me in disbelief, then gave me a hearty dressing-down for holding myself to some lofty, utopian ideal of parenting. I had worked myself into a frenzy trying to be this exemplary parent who wanted to kind and loving and cool and fun and fill the child’s bag with the wonders of the world. I strove to be the wind beneath the child’s wings. And expected the child to keep up to my speed.

Something had to change.

“Kids need a happy mother. Not a perfect one.” remarked my friend. That feedback cleaned the mist on my lens. It became a starting point for inner work. Today, with small, committed changes, I’ve gratefully uncoiled from that self imposed, inexorable space I had latched myself into.

I worked on the following areas to reset myself. And I hope you too will find these frames handy for reference in your own parenting journey.

Social Media

The Internet is a great medium of learning, expression and connection. However, the encroachment of social media in our daily lives and the narratives it feeds us is real. It has created spaces whose boundaries we need to define and navigate. For our degree of engagement can become our degree of vulnerability.

Today we’ve inherited narratives like the supermom – the accomplished diva who wears many hats and pulls off every single item with an aplomb that would put Houdini to shame. Other storylines perpetuated by brand marketing and social media include being the numero uno and the pursuit of the good life. The messaging is constantly one of competition and discontent with what we are or


We have internalized these narratives far deeply than we realize. Our inner space is so cranked up trying to stay on top of the game in every sphere that we eventually barter away authenticity in the process.

I had tried to be a super parent to the point it no longer became sustainable, even with the best intent.

It would be a good thing to periodically assess one’s own stance vis-à-vis media/social media messaging – the degree of validation we seek, the extent to which we apply social media filters and narratives in our own lives, and how we define our sense of self-worth.

Our authenticity as human beings first and as parents/teachers would automatically distil the same in our children.


If there is a Grammy for a universal refrain, it would be – I don’t have enough time. I wish there were more hours in a day.

Our days are choc-a-bloc with activity – errands to attend, chores to finish, and yet when night falls, we wonder where the day has vanished.

Somewhere, this also has to do with the shift in the way we have come to perceive time. As a generation, today we are living lives where quality is equated with productivity.

Productivity means compartmentalizing time into neat little boxes that would be Marie Kondo’s delight. When overdone, this becomes a trap. One begins to tick off lists in a manic sort of way. One doesn’t know what to do with empty time. And unfinished tasks can set in motion an acute sense of inadequacy.

Incompleteness, rather than fulfilment, now becomes our measure of self-worth and capability.

How do we reclaim time?

Schedules and routines are good. They lend structure to the day. Plans, goals and meta-goals are also important. They lend direction to our lives. But we needn’t rush to fill every void with activity, a snare I fell into in all my parenting earnestness. Doing nothing doesn’t equate with wasting time. It’s important and restorative to savor time with zero agenda, to celebrate be-ing, rather than do-ing.

Take the nap. Play a game of snake and ladders. Make paper boats.

We need this reminding, since we have forgotten the joys of leisure. And not just in a feel-good mindful way. The benefits of downtime on brain health are plentiful, as research indicates.

A consistent hour or two of downtime everyday can definitely scale up the quality of our lives.


Self-care is self-nurturing to protect the integrity of who we are, beyond our roles. It is the place where we access our highest, deepest, fullest selves.