Emotions easily spread through every family. Amidst the misunderstandings, fun and frustrations of present day family life, here are some suggestions about how, as a parent, you can manage your own wellbeing.
1. Be realistic & kind to yourself
Things will rarely go according to plan, particularly now that our routines are different. Don’t be self-critical. Feel proud of what you achieve, however small. Let your children hear that you are proud of your own achievements and theirs. This will help them learn to self-praise too. Many daily stresses will relate to normal family struggles and the stages which your children are at, regardless of any external factors like Coronavirus. Make time for yourself and do something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive. By putting your needs first from time to time, you will have much more to offer to others.
2. Acknowledge what’s on your mind
It’s sometimes easy not to notice how we’re feeling. You might feel stressed, ovelhelmed or fed up without having noticed how this started. It’s good to do regular ‘mind checks’ about how you’re feeling. Have gentle conversations about emotions. Some days will be stressful, when things don’t go to plan. When you are feeling stressed, just accept the feeling and don’t blame others for it. Let those around you know that we all go up and down a bit in our emotions, and that’s OK. When children see their parents doing this without blaming others, it helps them to regulate their own feelings. Engage in calming activities which work for you and make this a regular part of every day. It might be having a bath, listening to music or going for a walk. Find out what works for you.
3. Stay Connected with other parents
To support our own wellbeing, regularly talk to friends, family or colleagues professionals. Talking with people who are supportive and good at listening (without judging or criticising) is a very human need. Within your own network, there will be someone else who is feeling unconfident about parenting or keeping to new routines. Reach out to them and problem solve together. Many parents are finding that online groups can be really supportive in sharing how they feel and suggesting new ideas for activities. When we feel well supported as parents, the calmer we tend to feel – the more space we will have in our minds to support our children.
4. Create a new routine
Juggling the multiple roles can leave you feeling spread too thinly. This is hard. Try having achievable timetables with archievable goals. Each evening, try to think about the following day. This will help you feel reassured because you know what is likely to happen. Ideally children should get involved in planning their activities too. Our wellbeing is often nurtured by having a daily routine, a structure to our lives. If the day feels endless and without a plan, anxiety can easily be triggered. Planning your day in advance can help you find time for shared activities or quiet time. This working together as a family will also help to boost wellbeing.
5. Be honest & say sorry
We promote our own wellbeing by acknowledging we don’t always get things right. Misunderstandings and disagreements are normal in every family. They happen for all parents and they aren’t a sign that things are not OK. If possible, try to sort these things out as early as possible so that bad feelings don’t fester. Being able to say sorry can be very helpful in getting everyone back on track. Being honest and open with your children, and sharing what they need to know, will significantly boost your and their wellbeing.