3 things every parent needs to hear right now
If you're a parent, here are three things you need to hear at the moment.
1. You’re finding it hard because it is hard
You're finding things hard, not because you're in any way inadequate or lacking but because it is hard. Whatever your circumstances, life is probably unrecognisable from what it was last year. Many of the usual sources of support you would draw on aren’t open to you at the moment and it's hard if not impossible to find time for the self-care that you so desperately need, just to keep your head above water.
This situation is a perfect storm of things that are going to take you over the edge of your normal capacity to cope. On top of everything, you’re probably battling with a whole heap of parental guilt about not managing better, not enjoying it more, not doing enough or not feeling gratitude. Try giving yourself permission today to find it hard, because it really is hard.
Think of your phone when it is battery saver mode, it only uses the functions that are absolutely essential to remain ‘switched on’. How can you preserve your battery?
2. You’re doing the best you can under the most challenging of circumstances
Whatever you have achieved today is enough. You might be putting pressure on yourself to do more, you might be experiencing pressure from others such as employers, school or family members. It's very normal to think at the end of the day about the things that you haven’t done. I wonder what it would be like to focus on the things that you have done and allow yourself to feel satisfied that it was enough.
How would it feel to remind yourself that whatever didn’t get done, was left for really good reason? Perhaps a work issue cropped up or you were dealing with challenging behaviour from your children. Perhaps you were exhausted and mentally drained and just didn’t have the time, energy or resources to tackle that particular task today.
Try to remind yourself at the end of the day, that no matter what got done or didn’t, you did the best that you could with the circumstances that occurred today.
3. You do not have to do it all
This can apply to homeschooling, work commitments, household tasks or anything else. While employers or school might outline a number of tasks to be done, it is up to us to set the boundaries of what is manageable for us and for our circumstances. Only we know the challenges we are dealing with each day.
This one is tricky, especially if work or school are telling you that certain things must be done and the current circumstances are feeding the fear of losing employment or of your children falling behind at school. It can be really hard to let go of the feeling that you’re letting everyone down. Consider, what about you? What if, by trying to do it all, you are completely draining your cup? Nobody can pour from an empty cup.
If we are completely drained and burnt out (and I suspect rates of burnout are very high at present), we have a vastly reduced capacity to care for ourselves and for everyone else and as such we get trapped in a cycle of trying to do it all and feel we’ve failed when we don’t manage to reach the unattainable goal.
Try reminding yourself throughout the day that, "I don’t have to do it all," give yourself permission to say, "that can wait." Think of your phone when it is battery saver mode, it only uses the functions that are absolutely essential to remain ‘switched on’. How can you preserve your battery? What is essential? You might find yourself surprised by how short that list is. Don’t forget to include on your essential list things that meet your essential needs, not just everyone else’s and to remember the importance of things that charge your battery rather than drain it.
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