I have been reminded this week of the importance of journeying through parenthood with others. It’s something I’ve mentioned before (maybe on a few occasions) but each stage we face with our little ones brings new challenges which need not be faced alone.
We currently have a four-and-a-half-year-old (going on 14). The Jekyll and Hyde, the constantly switching attitude, the growling (?!), the shouting, and then the beautifully kind and caring, generous and thoughtful. Waaaa…whatever next? Pre-schoolers and thus into the fours are developing an understanding of the surge of hormones and emotions they are beginning to experience and faced with the huge task of understanding them. As parents this can be yet another challenging phase in which you don’t feel like you know whether you’re coming or going, you forget who you are as you enter into yet another child-like argument. Well, let me tell you something (and tell myself too) – we are the parents, the teachers, the emotional crutches, the solid (or not so solid) wall that they throw everything against and wait to see what bounces back. It is so hard to be solid sometimes without our own emotional crutches and our own firing wall.
This is where community comes in. I was prompted this week by one of the prospective adoptive parents I work with that I need to refigure my “resilience pool”. Where do I get my bounce-back-ability from? This persevering mother not only has regular kids hormones to deal with but those of a traumatised child, which can present quite differently. She expressed how she often feels she comes up against a brick wall but has to dig deep to find something to keep her moving forward. Kids are for life, not just for Christmas! January is nearly out, but we can’t give up there. These lives need us day in day out, so how do we make sure we are there for them as much as we possibly can be?
It comes back to that all-important buzz word; “self-care”. But as a mother, a wife, a worker, a home keeper, a human that can be so hard to reinforce. Here is what I have found helpful…firstly, carving out an hour or so a week to write this blog. I find as I encourage others I also encourage and remind myself of key strategies. Secondly, meeting (or just texting if time doesn’t allow) with friends/other mummies. Although they might not be at the same stage as me they can still encourage and listen. Problem shared, problem weight lifted slightly. Thirdly (and this is the rarest) finding a second to have some “me time”. As an introvert, I value this a lot and it might mean 5 minutes to have a coffee at home in peace, a walk to Lidl (by myself!), an early morning swim. Whatever I can manage for that week. Lastly, I have to remind myself that life is seasonal. There are times of encouragement and times of growth. Let us be reinforcers in our good times and seek support in the tough times. It’s not a weakness. It’s a necessity for survival! It helps us manage whatever is next.
What refuels your resilience tank? Let me challenge you to think that taking five to replenish will be much more beneficial than trying to run it on empty. It won’t go far. Arguing with a four-year-old requires more than a drip of petrol!!!