Parent guilt – something all of us are likely to feel at some point as we navigate our way through our parenting journey.
Not making enough meals from scratch, not playing with our children enough, missing school plays and sports days – the list goes on and on and on and on…..
The expectation on parents seems to have increased over the years but we still only have the same number of hours in our days, and the same number of days in our weeks. We live in demanding times where we are told that we can (and should) have it all – a tidy and organised home, beautifully turned-out children, a fulfilling career and (thanks Instagram and Pinterest) home-made gifts/costumes/cakes etc.
Do you ever find yourself talking about trying to make time, find time or wishing you just had more hours in your day?
Our 24 hours cannot be extended, they aren’t lost and you can’t buy or make any extra. Perhaps the problem is not the number of hours but rather how much we are trying to get done within that time frame.
And, equally, the problem lies in what we don’t do in those hours.
Before you check to see if you came to the right blog, you are on The Youth Fairy, Parent Pad – we aren’t about to tell you all the extra things you should be doing with your day, however we do have some thoughts on how you might make some small tweaks and changes to feel calmer, more in control and cope better with that rewarding (but demanding) job of parenting.
If ‘nearly 90% of mothers feel guilty’ (Telegraph, 2017) – then the ‘good news’ is that we are not alone, that we are ‘normal’ and that we are in the majority of Mum’s who we are struggling under the weight of unrealistic expectations.
But that’s not really good news – why is it that so many of us are feeling guilty?
The result of feeling guilty is that we often neglect ourselves and our own well-being as we struggle to reach the standards that we continue to set for ourselves. We can see prioritising ourselves over our families as selfish, something we don’t have time for or even, in some cases deserve. When we neglect ourselves, we can find that our own mental health begins to suffer, and we can find it more difficult to cope with day-to-day challenges of family life. Which in turn (you know what’s coming) leads to us feeling more guilty as we become even less able to reach the high standards we set for ourselves.
What can we do about it? How can we stop this cycle that we are in?
In the busy, demanding, times we live in, we are so often at the bottom of our list.
We want you to know that the 3Ps, something we talk about LOTS with your children, are equally as important for you.
- What would happen if we prioritised some of these 3Ps for ourselves?
- Is it possible that by being happier, calmer, and feeling more in control, we might feel happier and more confident in our parenting?
What are the 3Ps?
- Positive Interactions
- Positive Actions
- Positive Thoughts
When we engage in the 3Ps our brain rewards us with serotonin, the neurotransmitter which helps stabilise our mood and feelings of well-being and happiness.
By incorporating more 3Ps in our own day we demonstrate the importance of 3Ps for our family too – it’s win win!
Now at the Youth Fairy we understand that in order to create consistent, longer lasting change, starting small can really make a difference. Rather than trying to adjust too much in one go, which can become unsustainable and create feelings of disappointment or failure when we ‘fall off the wagon’ you might be better mastering a few smaller tweaks and adjustments which can be built on over time in a more manageable way.
So which of 3Ps are you going to plan into your life this week?
Here are some suggestions to help you get started.
Exercise: we know that exercise releases endorphins which helps relieve stress and also stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin which both help regulate our mood. Exercise doesn’t need to be a 5K jog or 2 hours in the – start small with something you find fun and enjoyable.
This might be…
- a walk (alone, with friends, with a dog, along the beach)
- an online class or going to a class with friends
- a team sport – maybe something you used to enjoy but haven’t done for a while
Gratitude Journal: we encourage our clients to keep a “Good Book” noting down at least 5 things which have been good about their day. This can be simple things like appreciating a sunny autumn day, a delicious hot chocolate at lunch or a cuddle with the cat. Studies show that people who keep gratitude journals sleep longer and have higher quality sleep. Sleep helps us to empty our ‘stress bucket’ and means that we feel more able to cope with the day ahead. The habit of reminding ourselves about the things we have to feel grateful for also trains our brain to look for more of those things, and we find ourselves noticing more positive things in our day and therefore having more positive thoughts.
You time: as parents we can feel that our whole day is taken up with interactions (not necessarily all positive ones) and so it is important to carve out some alone time – literally book it in your diary! This might be reading a book, having a bath or perhaps just getting 10 minutes to listen to a podcast or a guided relaxation.
Positive Interactions: plan in some time with friends to smile and laugh. When we smile and laugh, we create a surge of the positive neurotransmitters (endorphins, dopamine and serotonin). Smiling is also neurologically contagious – we catch a smile; mirror neurons fire when we smile and create a smile/mirror response from the recipient.