#283 - Strategies to Help When You're Parenting in Survival Mode

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC November 22, 2023

#283 - Strategies to Help When You're Parenting in Survival Mode

Listen & Subscribe on Your Platform of Choice:

Strategies to Help When You're Parenting in Survival Mode

Check out our Holiday Sensory Survival Guide, on sale NOW!

Shop During the Harkla Holiday Sale and Save 20% on ANY Order!

Nov. 20-27, 2023

Shop here - https://harkla.co/pages/holiday-sale

This episode is all about parenting while in survival mode. If you’re a parent who feels like every day is a struggle, or if you’re a professional working with families, this episode is for you!

Listen in as we discuss practical tips and techniques for preserving your sanity during demanding times. Discover effective ways to prioritize self-care, find support networks, and seek help when needed.

Through this episode, we hope to inspire and uplift parents who may be struggling with their own survival mode. Find solace in the fact that you're not alone, and that there is a community of parents who understand and empathize with your journey.

Make sure to check out all of our links below!

We’d love to answer your questions on the podcast! Fill out this form -> https://harkla.typeform.com/to/ItWxQNP3


All Things Sensory Podcast Instagram

Harkla YouTube Channel

Harkla Website - Shop Sensory Products!

Harkla Instagram

Peaceful Parenting Tips

The Overstimulated Parent’s Guide

Learning to be a Kind Parent

Sensory Overload in Adults


Strategies To Help When You're Parenting In Survival Mode

Parenting is a demanding journey, and there are times when you may feel like you're constantly in survival mode, just trying to make it through each day. This state of mind can be overwhelming, but there are practical strategies you can implement to help regain control and create a more balanced life for yourself and your children.

Establish A Daily Routine

You can regain control by building habits around simple activities like walking, drinking more water, opening windows for fresh air, taking movement breaks, and tidying up. These small actions may seem minor, but they contribute to a structured and predictable environment that can help reduce feelings of chaos and overwhelm.

Understand Your Challenges

Whether you struggle with sensory issues, ADHD, or other personal difficulties, understanding these challenges can help you find effective strategies to manage them. 

  • Journaling: Reflect on what triggers your survival mode and track your progress.
  • Prioritize Self-Care: Take time to relax or seek therapy.
  • Set Boundaries: It's okay to take breaks, ask for help when overwhelmed, and say “no”. 
  • Seek Support: Find a support group or talk to trusted family and friends about your struggles.

Take Care Of Your Basic Needs

  • Hydration: Use a fun water bottle, set reminders on your phone to drink water regularly, and consider adding electrolytes.

  • Sleep: Prioritize getting enough rest, even if it means going to bed earlier. If you struggle with sleep due to your children's needs, try to find small opportunities to rest throughout the day.

  • Nutrition: Focus on whole foods and prioritize protein at every meal. If you suspect nutritional deficiencies, consider consulting with a functional medicine practitioner.

Incorporate Movement And Play

Physical activity and play are vital for your and your children's well-being. Incorporate activities that get you moving and bring joy, such as:

  • Daily Walks: Aim for a daily walk outside, even if it's just for a few minutes. Fresh air and natural light can be incredibly rejuvenating.
  • Yoga and Stretching: Implement quick yoga stretches throughout the day to reset and refresh.
  • Playful Activities: Dance to music, wrestling, or playing games can help alleviate stress and foster a positive connection with your kids.

Create A Calm Environment

A cluttered and chaotic environment can contribute to feelings of overwhelm. Regularly tidy up your space to create a more organized and calming atmosphere.

Consider these strategies:

  • Morning and Evening Clean-Up: Set aside time daily to tidy up your living space, focusing on one area at a time.
  • Essential Oils and Fresh Air: Open windows to let in fresh air and diffuse essential oils to create a soothing environment. Lavender and peppermint are known for their calming properties.
  • Prioritize Your Mental and Physical Well-being: A balanced and healthy lifestyle, enhancing overall quality of life.

Prioritize Self-Care

Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it's necessary. Here are some self-care strategies:

  • Counseling and Therapy: Seek professional support to help manage your stress and mental health. Counseling can provide an objective perspective and valuable coping strategies.
  • Therapeutic Listening Programs: Programs like the Listening Program or Safe and Sound Protocol can help regulate your nervous system and improve overall well-being.
  • Mindful Movement: To reduce stress and promote relaxation, incorporate gentle exercises, such as yoga or Tai Chi, into your daily routine.
  • Gratitude Practice: Take a few minutes each day to reflect on what you are grateful to help shift your focus from negative thoughts to more positive ones.
  • Healthy Eating Habits: Make an effort to eat nutritious foods that will fuel your body and mind. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar, which can contribute to anxiety and mood swings.
  • Quality Sleep: Prioritize getting enough sleep each night by creating a calm bedtime routine and limiting screen time before bed. 

Implement Larger Changes Gradually

Some changes require more time and effort but can have a significant impact on your well-being, such as:

  • Exercise Routine: Develop a consistent exercise routine, even if it's just 15 minutes of movement a few times a week. 
  • Functional Medicine: Consider seeing a functional medicine practitioner to address any underlying health issues contributing to stress and fatigue. 
  • Mindfulness Practices: Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises. 
  • Activities That Spark Joy: Hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or taking a break from technology.


Parenting in survival mode is challenging, but by implementing these strategies, you can regain control and start to thrive. Remember, taking small steps and being kind to yourself is essential.

Choose one or two strategies to focus on initially and gradually build from there. You are not alone, and with the right tools and support, you can create a more balanced and fulfilling life for yourself and your family.





While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in All Things Sensory by Harkla

#312 - Supporting Gestalt Language Processors in Occupational Therapy Sessions
#312 - Supporting Gestalt Language Processors in Occupational Therapy Sessions

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC June 11, 2024

Read More
#311 - Teaching You How to Set Up Obstacle Courses that Target Multiple Goals
#311 - Teaching You How to Set Up Obstacle Courses that Target Multiple Goals

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC June 04, 2024

Read More
#310 - Answering Your Sensory and OT Questions
#310 - Answering Your Sensory and OT Questions

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC May 28, 2024

Read More
Liquid error (layout/theme line 860): Could not find asset snippets/oneclickupsellapp-theme.liquid