If you are a parent or if you have ever interacted with a child between the ages of 18 months and 3 years, then you most likely have witnessed many of the milestone behaviour within autonomy versus shame and doubt stage from Erik Erikson’s stage of psycho social development, such as wanting to dress themselves, feed themselves with their fingers, or you may have even experienced a struggle trying to hold them amongst a pool of tears because they can’t and won’t find their drink bottle (even though you know that they haven’t even started looking for it and it’s on the kitchen bench!).
Is anyone else feeling the overwhelm of the year coming to a close?
Parties, dinners, graduations, the organisation of trips away, shopping, shopping, shopping…
Are your children feeling ‘off track and stressed out?’
Could it be they’re reflecting the negative energy you’re putting out?
I know as a mama I’m having my fair share of ‘moments’ as the holidays rapidly approach, and I know that my children are vibing off of that too. We are all so ready for the holidays to begin whilst also being aware that, ‘this too shall pass.’ And it does pass, seemingly more and more quickly as the years go by.
This time of year is a wrap up of all that has come in the months before while at the same time often an avalanche of chaos, stress and anxiety around the numerous things we need to get done, to attend, to buy, to cook, to clean, item after item that needs to be handled and ticked off our many, many holiday ‘to do’ lists. This can create tension within homes, anger around finances being stretched, and anxiety around events with young children.
Mama Guilt, we ALL do it!
Guilt- Some mamas say they never live a day without it. We worry. Did we give enough of our time today? Did I feed him well enough? She hardly slept today and yesterday, is she cutting her day sleeps or was it because I met my girlfriend for a coffee?
We feel overstretched by the demands of a busy household, the juggle of work and our kids. Spending time with friends and your partner. There are days where we might think to ourselves ‘is this it? Is this part of some divine plan to have me feeling like a nervous wreck!?’
Motherhood introduces us to so many varied mind states, such extremes of emotions that can feel so unfamiliar and at times disturbing. We will swing from one to the other. Revisiting old wounds, and hurts.
We also try to hide all of these feelings due to undulating pressure on ourselves and from our friends and family, society as a whole. Because we are supposed to feel ‘good’ about being in this place called mamahood.
We are so quick to judge each other too for feeling all of this and some. Then those mama guilt feelings come up again because we shouldn’t be feeling this way.
Mindful parenting is an essential part of being a parent. Mindful parenting is a lifelong practice. It is about becoming less attached to the outcome and more mindful of what is unfolding in yours and your children’s lives.
Some core characteristics of mindfulness are:
Observation – Being mindful aims to shift your focus of attention away from thinking to simply observing, observing your thoughts, feelings and the sensations around you.
Being non-judgemental – This is an important aspect to adopt as we all can relate to trying to control what we’re experiencing at times. When being mindful no attempt is made in evaluating your experience or to say ‘that it is good, bad or terrible, right, wrong, or a failure.’
“This takes time to develop because accepting all of one’s experience can be a challenge. But by bringing about a kind, gentle curiosity to your experience is one way of starting to become non-judgemental.” Quote taken from the Centre for Clinical Intervention.
“Two year old’s aren’t terrible — they’re torn.” Janet Lansbury.
Children do not, indeed cannot, make their own way unguided.
There are consistent bodies of research now that specify, that children learn best from setting limits for their behavior.
BUT how do you do that peacefully and positively? How do you teach your children to consider others, to take turns, to not hit, punch and throw things?
A couple of months ago I wrote a heartfelt post about our 4yo daughter.
I was struggling with her behaviour, meltdowns were long & explosive, her sensitivity to everything outside of her control was exhausting, her quest for affection meant that there was NO personal space EVER (I’m also still Breastfeeding our 16mo) in all honesty I was completely worn out, my heart was heavy, and I was at breaking point…
Our littlest love has been unwell on and off for the past couple of weeks.
Trying, exhausting, relentless nights.
Breastfeeding like a newborn baby.
Up and down all night, soothing and cuddling, feeding and loving.
Motherhood- A ‘hood’ that many of us may see as a spiritual journey. One that challenges us & reminds us of our daily practice… practice that can be rigorous & at times exhausting. Our infants and our children are our teachers repeatedly forcing us to live in the present moments..
Anxiety is part of our survival instinct. When faced with a threatening situation, our brains and bodies respond by kicking into safety mode. Our adrenalin starts pumping, which helps us get ready to escape the danger.
Fearful and anxious behaviour can be common in children – especially as they come across a new situation and/or experience. Most children will learn to cope with their different fears and worries.
However, they may need a little extra support when:
We made a concious decision as parents to try our best to not put our children in a ‘box,’ starting with “artificial praise” such as ‘good girl! You’ve put all of your toys away!’ We truly believed that by doing so we would be (unintentionally) creating a high standard for our children to be ‘good’ all of the time which then inevitably leads to ‘perfectionism’ & frustration.