Hi fellow parents!
It’s been a tough year. I don’t know about you but when our young people went back to school in September, I felt like things were finally starting to look up a little. Now we are in the middle of a second lockdown and everything feels uncertain once more.
Our young people are still at school this time, which I see as a good thing. However, this throws up a whole heap of new worries. Is it safe for them to be at school? How will the new restrictions and rules in school affect them? Also, those young people who find school difficult at the best of times might be really struggling at present. Or you might be struggling with the fact that at any moment your child’s school may close, leaving you to once again juggle home schooling along with your other commitments.
And then of course there is the general stress, fear and worry that both Coronavirus and its restrictions bring up. Health, finances, relationships… The list is endless. As a result, your household might be a bit more dysregulated and a bit less relaxed than usual. I know mine is!
So, I want to take you back to basics. Three basic things that I think might help you right now. I have said all of these things before but at times like this we all need a gentle reminder that it’s OK to keep things simple.
Almost every problem can be solved by empathy – If your child/adolescent/young person is being a right pain in the backside, most of the time there will be something behind it. Something they can’t quite or don’t want to communicate. Stay curious and show empathy, it really works. But I know it’s hard when they push your buttons. (And boy do they!) For example, my daughter (now 5) is awful either when it’s time to get ready for school or at bedtime. Sometimes I lose my temper and threaten to impose a sanction. (usually the removal of a barbie for a day). This almost never works. What works is when I can figure out why she doesn’t want to get ready for school/bed. Is it a PE day? Is she tired? Is she having too much fun playing? Showing empathy for this, understanding why it’s hard and also trying to add some fun to getting ready for school/bed is what does work.
PLAY, PLAY, PLAY! – Play and playfulness are the single most underrated tools in your arsenal as a parent. Finding ways to have fun and be playful can make a huge difference to everyone in the household, regardless of age. Last night whilst cleaning up after dinner we found ourselves in fits of laughter making up silly dances to our favourite songs. Other times I find myself crawling around the living room with my daughter riding on my back like a horse. Her dad creates her amazing scenes with her toys so she can come home and let her imagination run wild. For older young people it might just be playful conversation, family jokes or board games together. Even better if this play can be taken outside. Are you ever too old to splash in puddles or climb a tree? Trust me getting involved in play is life changing, even if you sometimes feel a bit silly.
You can’t fill from an empty cup – What are you doing to keep yourself mentally and physically well right now? As you know, exercise is my big stress reliver. Just a little bit every day makes a huge difference. So does getting outside and walking the school run if you can. Also, you need empathy just as much as your child. Are you opening up to anyone about how you are feeling, REALLY feeling? Try and find small ways to take care of yourself throughout your day, and you will be a calmer, more patient parent for it. I wrote a blog early on in the Pandemic about self-care for parents. You can find it HERE.
And one last thing…
Just remember that parenting is hard. REALLY hard! You won’t always get it right and it’s OK to tell your young people when you’re struggling, or you feel you got it wrong. That way they learn that we all make mistakes and that the key is to learn from those mistakes. That way, your young people learn that you are a human being. And it is a relief to know that you are just like them; trying to find your way in the world. I believe that if you are truly listening to them and showing them empathy everything else will fall into place. As ever, stay safe, stay strong and stay kind
– Blog written by Terrie