by Tracy Poizner | 09.02.17 | 1:36
And when I say mom, please know that I mean dad too. Sometimes dad is the person in the family who spends most hours each day dealing with a child who is sometimes hard to bear. Kids all have degrees of difficult behaviours, and we as parents have days when it can be easier or less easy to bring the best of ourselves to the task. Whichever parent is the one in your house who needs help to take a step back after having their buttons pushed for the umpteenth time, this is for you.
Parenting is not for sissies. It is hard work and requires all the emotional fortitude you can muster. As human beings, we are triggered to react according to ways we were conditioned as children. Sometimes we repeat the response our own parents would have had to a certain challenge, and other times we go way overboard to avoid saying or doing what adults said or did to us as children. The only way to get off this hamster wheel is to get the self-care we need to process the issues that are being triggered by the life-stage of parenting.
This is not meant as an exhaustive list, but here are a few things you can do.
- Know that you deserve and are entitled to help! The job of raising children has never been as isolating as it is now. Generations ago, we typically had large families around us, whole communities that took part in the lives of our children. This may not be possible but we can construct something to take the part of this support community. Who can you make part of your child’s tribe? Are there relatives, neighbours, co-workers, friends, or members of your worship community that you might call on for an hour or two of babysitting (or mentoring in the case of a school age child)?
- Make time for yourself to do what you need to do in order to be able to think straight, whatever that is. Perhaps there an older child somewhere you could pay to play with yours for an hour a few times a week? How about a meal co-op where you make a double batch one night to share with a family who in return provides a weekly meal you don’t have to make?
- Meditation is an outstanding technique that exists in innumerable forms. My personal favourite is called Vipassana meditation (visit www.dhamma.org), but another well-known approach is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. You can find many different guided meditations online where someone walks you through exactly what to do. Check out Deepak Chopra’s website for some free downloads, and of course there are quite a number of apps available if you prefer to have something on your phone.
- Belly breathing (in and out through the nose) is a great technique for turning on your “parasympathetic” nervous system, the part that controls all the relaxing functions of your body. When we are stressed, we get stuck in a state of being “on” all the time, and we need help to turn “off”. Just breathe slowly and make sure that instead of allowing your chest and shoulders to rise and fall, you take the breath into your belly. Try that for 60 seconds, even if you have to go into the bathroom and close the door to get one minute to yourself!
- EFT – also called tapping – is a very resourceful thing to learn to do. It is a combination of mindfulness and acupressure points that allows our nervous system and our conscious awareness to team to unravel deep feelings in our unconscious mind. This is very easy to learn, there are many quick video tutorials available on youtube. I made a demo you can watch and adapt to your own circumstances.
If you have ever heard an airline cabin attendant instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting a child, the principle is the same. You need to do whatever it takes to muster the difficult skills of parenting even a child of average disposition, let alone a challenging one. Give yourself a break!