The Lonely Planet of Parenting: How to be Comfortable in an Increasingly Uncomfortable World- Part 1
No matter who you are or how many children you have, one thing all parents have in common is that parenting was never what they expected it to be. While the majority feel it is much tougher than they ever imagined, some might have thought it was easier; no doubt, they have had surprise experiences along the way.
Babies are cute but complicated. Who knew so much could come out of something so little? They grow so quickly that once you've mastered one stage they are already onto the next. Watching your children grow, can be quite satisfying: the first steps, riding a bike, the first A paper hanging on the fridge. It is a great feeling, however many of the moments in between can be stressful, exhausting and most importantly, LONELY!
Generations before us had much larger families and lived with a lot less. Less money, less technology and machines to help with daily tasks and less "things" collecting dust or being bought to occupy our children's time. So how is it that they made it with more kids and less of everything else? Why does parenting seem so much harder these days? That is what we are going to explore in this blog series.
Reason #1 is FEAR! Now more than ever we are living in a fear-based society chalked full of anxiety and worry. (Just for the record, I am not at all comparing parenting today with those that experienced war and refuge, I would never consider that an easy or fear-free time.)
We have access to so much media today and are bombarded with information everywhere we look and listen. These sources surround you, telling you what to do and how to feel. It can be so overwhelming at times that you aren't even sure what you feel versus how you "should" feel about a situation. How do we combat fear when the world is a scary place? We need to learn how to check-in with our inner compass to understand which feelings are coinciding with how we actually feel. Let's look at a couple of ways to do this.
First, limiting media is crucial to keeping your energy true and upbeat for the day. If you are watching, listening, reading the news and/or social media feeds first thing in the morning you can fall into the rabbit hole of opinions and judgement quickly. Allow yourself a specific time and duration each day to update yourself and be conscious of your agitation levels. Avoid first thing in the morning, as tempting as it may be, as this will set your mood for the day.
Second, meditate. Clearing the noise from your mind allows you to process information overload effectively. Meditation is not just trendy or "new age", it is extremely beneficial to our mental well being. Even as short as a 10 minute stretch will help.
Third, jot down your worries. When anxiety is taking up too much head space, put pen to paper and write it all out. Initially this will get the anxious thoughts to stop circulating in your mind all day. Then go a step further and review each one in detail. Read them out loud if you wish and then ask yourself how true the statement is. Is this a legitimate fear or worry or is your mind playing the worst-case scenario trick?
Example: My child will be so far behind next year due to being out of school. Is this really true? How do you know? Every child is in the same situation and learning will need to be re-evaluated next school year for all. Not only that, but children are learning all the time, not just in school with worksheets. Ask yourself how you can incorporate learning easily into everyday activities. At home, Card games, recognizing colours, shapes and numbers, baking, and even small chores can count as learning. On the road, eye spy, sign reading games and searching for different types of cars are fun examples of learning. Walking in nature and finding different animals and plant life is also an enjoyable way to learn. Learning is not just workbooks and slide presentations, it surrounds us everyday.
The last and most powerful way to let go of fear in your life is by talking to others in your community that support you. For some this might come easily through family and friends while others might have a harder time finding such support. However, during this challenging time I think everyone has had a major hit to their support system by not being able to connect the way they usually do. This has allowed us to appreciate and experience the strength of human connection in parenting and in life.
When you speak to others who are sharing your feelings and concerns you will find you are not alone. You might realize that some felt the same way in the past and have overcome their worries and will be able to guide you to do the same. When we feel scared and alone it can be paralyzing and prevents us from moving forward and being the best version of ourselves. Having a judgement free community support system is imperative to our survival. Understanding that your fears are shared as well as valid can bring immense comfort. Realizing that there is a community that will help you work through your worries makes for a world that is not so scary and a lot less lonely.
This is one part of a series designed to aid parents in developing a strong support community even when we can't physically be together. If we are open, honest, empathetic and kind we can spread help to all in need and truly heal our mental health issues naturally instead of destroying our physical health with medications and stress.
I would love to hear from you and have you take part in a life changing parenting community.