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Feeling overwhelmed as a parent? 3 secrets for inner peace until naptime

As parents, plenty of us are feeling awfully overwhelmed. How can we take steps to feel better without overwhelming ourselves even more?
/ Source: TODAY

Wow. As parents, a lot of us are feeling very, very, VERY overwhelmed. That is abundantly clear from the many submissions coming in for the TODAY Parenting Team's "Get Happy!" challenge.


How can we take steps to feel better — without overwhelming ourselves even more? According to several TODAY Parenting Team contributors, the tiniest of tweaks in our routines and outlooks can make a huge difference. Here are three real parents’ simple secrets for greater inner peace.

Please feel free to join in this ongoing conversation by becoming a member of our team and stay connected to TODAY Parents updates on our Facebook page. If you have other insights to share about happiness in parenting, we'd love to hear them!

1. ‘Don’t neglect yourself.’ (Jennifer Swartvagher)

TODAY Parenting Team contributor Jennifer Swartvagher writes about the pressures and the joys of raising a large family.Courtesy of Jennifer Swartvagher

“Know your own limits, and if you are starting to feel overwhelmed, focus on your own needs for a little bit. Run yourself ragged, or push yourself too far, and things start to fall apart in a hurry. Spend some time each day doing something entirely for you. If you need to, get up a half hour early or stay up a half hour later each day to exercise, watch television or curl up on the couch with a cup of tea. A hot shower or an uninterrupted bubble bath can do wonders.”

2. Stop, look around for a minute — and breathe. (What's In Your Mom Genes)

Happiness might be right in front of you.Courtesy of What's In Your Mom Genes

“Happiness is in your child's laughter, in the breeze rustling though the trees ..., in the saltwater the waves wash on your face on a sunny beach day, and eating a simple meal together as a family. Don't miss out on these precious happiness trying to get more things, accomplish more academically or secularly, or by moving on to another marriage mate. Happiness is not a distant destination. Most of the time it's right here!”

3. Forget about perfection and embrace ‘good enough.’ (Christine Organ)

"Let's stop trying to be perfect parents and be happy as good enough parents."Courtesy of Christine Organ

“It's hard enough to discipline our kids and teach them to be kind and honest; why not cut ourselves some slack and be a little kinder with ourselves?

“Your kid went to school with his teeth brushed and shoes tied, but hair unbrushed? Good enough! Dinner has been pizza and baby carrots for the past three nights? Good enough! Date night consists of wearing your good yoga pants (or maybe just the clean ones), putting the kids to bed a little early and binge watching ‘Mad Men? Good enough! You've packed the kids' backpacks with Lunchables and Capri Sun for the past week? Good enough! ...

“You know what? As soon as I stopped focusing on being a perfect parent and more on being a good enough one, I heard those quiet words that I had longed to hear for so long: You're doing a good job, a damn good job.

“And you know what else? So are you.”

Follow writer Laura T. Coffey on Twitter @ltcoff and Google+ and learn about her new book at