#refeel: How parents keep their cool


Monica Müller



Kleinkind und Eltern auf einer Wiese

A large number of parents of babies and small children feel under a great deal of pressure. Our tips help parents to deal with day-to-day life and take care of themselves while doing so.

#refeel – help and advice before your batteries run out.The #refeel campaign is being carried out by the Zurich Children's Hospital and Marie Meierhofer Institut für das Kind, among others, in collaboration with Pro Juventute.It is supported by the Migros Cultural Percentage. 

Tips for day-to-day life with babies and small children


Create calm areas

If an infant cries a lot or a toddler is hard work for the entire day, parents simply feel happy once the child is finally quiet. They then try not to disturb this peace and quiet at any cost. By doing this, however, they miss out on some lovely moments with their child. These moments are important for parents to recover for when everything starts to go wrong again. 

This tip may help:  Create situations in which parents can enjoy spending time with their child. Even if it is only for five minutes, this will do both parent and child a world of good, it will consolidate their relationship and provide energy. It is important to scale down expectations. It is unrealistic to expect to enjoy a whole afternoon without any stress. These small moments of happiness can include playing around when changing nappies, having a chat on the carpet or a going out into the garden.

Economising your energy 
Small children demand a great deal of energy and patience. It is normal for parents to feel like they are being tested to their limits and have run out of energy. It is important that parents make sure to always take time to recover and recharge their batteries. Parents who share parenting duties still sometimes do not get enough sleep, as they both stay awake at night. This is because they either don't switch off or they don't want to let each other down. If both parents are constantly alert, neither of them can get any rest or take the time to recover. 

This tip may help: Agree on each parent's specific responsibilities and make sure to see this through, i.e. who is responsible for which stage during the day and night?  It is important that both parents then keep to this agreement, with one taking responsibility and the other actually refraining from getting involved (using earplugs if necessary!) It is also worthwhile discussing who is better at dealing with certain tasks. For example, maybe the child crying in the evenings is more stressful for the father, but he doesn't mind getting up at night and walking up and down the apartment with the child in his arms? It is also comforting to think that new phases of development that may be easier for you are just around the corner.


Vater mit Kleinkind

Even though being a parent is a 24/7 role at the beginning, you should create situations in which you can enjoy yourselves.

Honest discussions 
Discussing how stressful it is having children is still taboo. Many people only want to talk about how well their baby/child is doing and how happy they are – seemingly all the time. No one touches on the difficult moments and feelings. However, bottling up feelings of frustration is not good for anyone and we usually take this frustration out on the people closest to us. 

This tip may help: Have an honest discussion with someone that you trust.

Realistic expectations 
Many young parents imagined that parenting would be totally different – more idyllic and relaxed. They do not get enough sleep, no longer have any time for themselves and are overwhelmed by the feeling that they are now responsible for a fragile being. Some parents think that their babies intentionally cry so much to make them suffer, while others feel like a failure if despite their best efforts they cannot calm their baby down quickly enough. It's always a matter of finding out what a child needs and what helps when he or she is unhappy – even for experienced parents. Some parents believe that they have to dedicate their entire attention to their child. 

This tip may help: You cannot be there for your child at all times. Although a baby always needs someone to be close by, he or she can occupy themselves for a short period of time. A couple of relaxing moments can do both parent and child a world of good. If the child has just woken up or is laid on the play mat contentedly, parents can quietly take some time to read an article, drink a cup of coffee, call a friend or finish off something they had started.

Baby auf Bett

Juggling a job and a family

Most parents want to avoid as much as possible having others looking after their children. As a result, they plan their work and childcare in such a way that the timing is perfect. One parent takes the child to childcare and the other picks them up. In between, both parents get to focus on their work. This means that they have to rush from one task to the next and the week is completely filled up. This is draining and causes stress.

This tip may help: Add a bit more flexibility to your planning, include buffer zones in the childcare plan and treat yourself to a small amount of free time. Perhaps one of your neighbours could pick up your child from nursery? Or perhaps your child could stay 30 minutes longer with the childminder? A back-up plan for emergencies is also important, as children fall ill. 

Take care when drawing comparisons

Talking with other parents can be helpful. You will often receive good tips for helping to deal with day-to-day problems. However, you can often get the impression that other babies and small children are easier to take care of and can already do more than your child.

This tip may help: Every child is different and has their own personality. This means that different children spend different amounts of time crying each day, eat different amounts of food and drink different amounts of fluids. They also sleep differently and learn to walk and start speaking at different times. Don't allow yourself to feel insecure by comparing your child with another.  

Accept and offer support 

Most of us think that we have to be able to manage, as others have also been able to do it. We drag ourselves limply through our daily lives and feel increasingly exhausted. 

This tip may help:  If friends, grandparents or neighbours offer to help out, accept this offer! Firm offers of help are welcome: Shall I take your child out for a walk in the pushchair every Wednesday at 5 p.m.? I am baking an apricot tart. When can I bring it round to you?

Handydisplay mit Startseite von refeel.ch

Foto: Kampagne #refeel

The #refeel campaign

The re-feel.org website features contact information for institutions that offer help to parents, such as community centres and new parents support groups.

Fotos: Getty Images

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