Parenthood is a big challenge. It always has been and every era has its own challenges. If some decades ago, in Europe, for example, the supply of healthy/ sufficient food was a big challenge - due to the poverty of the war/post-war period, today we face different issues.
These days, thankfully (for the most part), it's not about whether the fridge is stocked or we have a roof over our heads. Today we are stressed and worried because we have Manage family, job, partnership, everyday life somehow and often there is no one to support us but our partner.
The days are racing by. The kids are just exhausting. The tiredness is so heavy that any communication is limited to the most necessary and although parents strive every day to get everything under one hat and check off to-do lists, one turns in circles and the Stress is getting bigger and bigger. Because one thing usually falls by the wayside: YOU.
No own time
We don't have time to take care of ourselves. We do and do. But mostly for others. Run errands, have obligations, settle arguments, comfort, blow, help, discuss. It takes a tremendous amount of energy. And even though Mother Nature has endowed us with an extra portion of parenting strength in the beginning, over time the stress does make itself felt.
We may be easily irritated. Sensitive to noise. Annoyed. Feel like we'd prefer to seek refuge on a desert island. Away from stress. Away from the daily grind. Very understandable in my eyes. And I myself can still remember the time when I wanted to escape to an island. My everyday life was just exhausting. My body on Permanent stress ...set. It was enough already a little thing and my mood tilted.
I began to think. Because one thing was clear to me - I didn't want to be like that. I wish I was a laid-back mamawho doesn't see tipped-over glasses as the end of the world. I wanted more peace and balance for myself. I wanted to laugh with my children instead of constantly nagging them.
And after some time, I realized why I felt that way. In all the time I had available each day, I hardly allowed myself a rest that would give me strength. I kept going back beyond my limits and ignored my needs. Because the children - THEY were more important. Or the household. Or the long overdue documents that had to be sorted.
I forgot the essential what my children need, which is a healthy, well-adjusted mother...who takes responsibility for herself. In a need-oriented mindful parenthood, this is for me one of the most important points of all.
And probably one or the other knows the safety instructions in the airplane to put on the oxygen mask first and only then to his neighbor? This is exactly what we should also consider in everyday life. After all, where should we get the strength for all-nighters, development phases, constant breastfeeding, or rock-pegging if we don't take care of it ourselves?
A term that often has negative connotations. But that's what we need as parents. Selfish behavior to have resources available so that we can take care of our children. To be able to accompany them in their developmental stages. Not somehow, but appreciatively, lovingly and mindfully.
By that I don't mean that we should start to only enforce our desires, or force something that may not be feasible at the moment. What I mean is that we should take responsibility for ourselves. For our well-being. For our actions. It's not the pile of laundry, the dishes, the tipped-over glass, or the arguing kids that cost us out of strength. It's how we look at them. HOW we feel about these situations. And HOW we then deal with them.
The more caring and mindful we are with ourselves, the more relaxed we are as parents. In the truest sense of the word. Because our brain, as studies from neurobiology show, always reacts with three possible responses in stressful situations: Flight - Fight - Play Dead (Freeze). Stress usually always meant danger in the Stone Age, and our old brain (which doesn't know we live in the 21st century!) still reacts the same way in stressful situations.
It makes no difference whether a saber-toothed tiger is standing in front of us or the milk has been spilled. Stress is stress for our brain. The overturned milk becomes a saber-toothed tiger. In stressful situations we are not able to weigh and plan our actions. We perceive our environment as stress. We simply react. In this sense, we cannot do anything about it. What we can do, however, is to take care of ourselves so well that we can not be under constant stress.
Finding opportunities and creating space in which we can react in a more relaxed and mindful way
Maybe these questions will help you to find out where your biggest stressor is and what you need in your daily life:
- How do I want to react in (challenging) situations?
- Where in my day do I feel the most tension?
- What need is unmet?
- How can I fulfill these unmet needs?
- What's good for me?
When we have answered these questions, it can happen that we are faced with new challenges, because now we have to implement them. And I would like to ask you not to stay alone, but to look for solutions together with your partner, for example. Or with a good friend. Or with your grandparents. Or maybe also in a professional setting.
Because mostly a very big stress factor is hidden here - that we feel alone in our everyday life as mother, or father. Accompanying children is not something we can do alone. Even if it is suggested to us again and again.
"As parents, we need a net to carry us so we can carry those who need our support and companionship!"
There are now quite wonderful offers to support us parents, even if we don't live in a multi-generational home. Here I have looked for a few offers for my area out and many offers there are also nationwide. Of course, a network is not always at hand and it is in reality mostly so that during the week a parent provides alone for the children.
Tips for everyday life
Finally, I would like to give you a few small impulses that can perhaps change your perspective, give you strength and strengthen your resources. So that you can do something small every day that gets your brain out of the stress trap.
- Share Breakswhen you realize you need one! Nothing can be so important that you now absolutely still have to do the household.
- Structure your day - discuss it with your partner (where can he or she support you?) and also plan time for yourself!
- Take regular quite conscious, deep breaths. Also close your eyes for a moment. Maybe you can set a reminder on your mobile phone, or put a loving hint post-it for yourself somewhere (on the toilet, in the kitchen, in the bathroom...).
- small Walkseven with children, can give us strength again. Maybe you can also make a small Mindfulness Exercise Sneak around like Indians. Try not to make a sound. Walk slowly and deliberately. Feel each step very consciously. Try to bring all your attention to the foot - What kind of ground can you feel? Where does the foot touch the ground first? Do you notice differences on the floor? Breathe in and out with each step.
- Playtime with the kids. You like role-playing games, handicrafts, painting, or maybe electronic games (PC, Playstation etc.)? Why don't you do together again and again what you enjoy together. This is also a break and connects you with your child at the same time.
- Enjoy Exclusive time for you. It is good to have opportunities to recharge with our children, but sometimes we need things to do on our own. When the focus is only on ourselves, so to speak. What is good for you then? What would you like to do again ONLY for YOU?
- Make a date. Cook yourselves in the evening extra something delicious at home. Talk to each other. Have Sex. You have become parents together and usually face similar challenges. Support each other. Talk about wishes, needs, limits. Be there for each other.
- If you are faced with the question of what to do now: take a break or fold the laundry, make a conscious decision FOR the break or also FOR folding the laundry. Nothing is more exhausting in the long run than doing things over and over again that we actually don't want to do...
- Be aware of your needs and serious. Hungry? Thirsty? Pippi? Always ask yourself how you feel. Eat and drink regularly (maybe together with your child?!) Go to the toilet when you need to.
- At the very end: Take yourself seriously. YOU are the most important person in your life. YOU you're pulling the strings of your life. YOU you get to take responsibility for yourself.
We do the best we can every day. That shouldn't stop us from questioning our actions when we notice that things aren't going well. The wonderful thing is that our children see and feel that we take responsibility. Responsibility for the relationship with them. Responsibility for their well-being. Responsibility for your own life.
A factor to learn and grow. Each for himself. And together.
This article is a guest contribution from Maria Abel
I am Maria, wife and mum to two boys and a starlet, registered health and paediatric nurse, certified course leader since Sept 2017 for. Children's Better Understanding Courses and parent-family counselor i.A.
I am sure that our world will only benefit if we are mindful and carry true love within us and give it outward. ♥