We are cranky, they get cranky. We stare at our screens because it can be the path with less conflict and struggle.
We’re busy, they’re TOO busy!
We punish rather than choose to teach.
We forget to stop. Listen and connect.
Sometimes it really is all too much.
It’s too trying, too tiring and too much of a challenge.
You’ve woken up to, yet another sleepless night and all of your children are still in your bed! You wake up only to notice that your daughter’s nappy is off and there’s a puddle of wee in the kitchen that you accidentally slip in as you prepare your morning coffee!!
Tara Samuelson Photography
You’ve just gotten dressed, you’re sipping on your morning coffee after a long night of wake ups, your new baby is snuggling up to your chest… ‘brrraaaap!!’ You look down and there’s poo everywhere!! How the hell did that happen!!
Parenting can be hard. It can be stressful. The question is, is it worth deliberating and dwelling upon things that you simply cannot change? Things that have already happened.
Isn’t that a recipe for making you feel much worse?
“Research has shown that children create unhappiness. There are some parenting blogs and facebook feeds that perpetuate that,” as stated by Dr Justin Coulson PhD.
Dr Justin Coulson has researched over 1000 Australian parents. His research showed that parents experienced lowered wellbeing as their children got older or with the more children that they had. Taken from the book by Dr Justin Coulson PhD, Author of ’10 things every parent needs to know.’
In this book Dr Coulson goes onto explain that within his research he found that children have been more likely to think that they are the cause of their parent’s frustration, anger and sadness.
Grace Mac Photography
Could it be that that’s because we tend to show our negative feelings far more than we do our joy, our happiness?
It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote a post on my Instagram and Facebook handles about a group of mums that I’d overheard in the playground, they were discussing their ‘painful pests,’ with a cuppa, right in front of their toddlers.
The post read:
“I’m going to be completely honest here. And it may upset some people…
But I really struggle to understand why we as parent’s feel it’s ok to call our children names in front of them?
Would you speak to your friend like that?
If they spoke to you like that, or if you overheard them speaking about you like that, how would you feel?
So I ask you, how do you think your child feels when they overhear you speak about them like that?
Let’s be very clear here, your children are not a burden. They weren’t brought upon this earth to upset you purposefully (even though on those really emotionally exhausting days it sometimes feels like it!)
Your child doesn’t cry and express their big emotions in public just to make you feel like an incompetent parent.
They don’t cry or refuse to eat their dinner because they know that you’re watching your favourite tv show.
Like us, they have very real needs and very big emotions. If their needs such as, food, a nap, exercise, play and being outside to ground their energy, if these needs haven’t been met then they do express it in a BIG way.
All of those big feelings are due to their brain still developing, it’s all about the medulla aspect of the brain.
The medulla helps control the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system when you feel stressed or in danger, the vasomotor centre makes the blood vessels get smaller.
This is part of the body’s “fight or flight” response.
I have a 3-year-old, I absolutely get it! I have experienced parenting toddlers three times over now, and it’s not easy! What I can say though, is that I come back to empathy.
When I can meet their needs, this eases both of us into a calmer state of being. It is never too late to start parenting mindfully and with empathy.
Empathy is at the heart of what it means to be a human being. It is the foundation for learning how to love others as they are, to take a step back and try to ‘see’ things as they do.
To care about another’s feelings is the beginning framework for healthier relationships.”
Amber Murley Photography
There is no doubt that parenting challenges us, it can take us to a dark place that we didn’t even know existed when we are triggered by our children’s behaviour.
But, does this mean that in being a parent we can no longer reclaim our ‘joy?’
Let’s look at the definition of the word ‘meaning,’ Defined by Wikipedia as: ‘the existence of an individual human being or animal.’
Take the existence of your child as an example, meaning means to look at what you
have achieved with your parenting journey, the giving, the selflessness, the
sacrifice and love, all of this experience brings with it joy and a sense of
purpose in your parenting journey.
There are numerous experiences that we can have with our child/ren to feel more joy and more happiness in our everyday together:
When we connect and listen, we show our children that their feelings are important.
When we create time for meaningful connection examples such as, reading with them, playing, cooking dinner together, making and playing with playdough and even something as simple as a walk-in nature disconnected from our phones and our screens.
If this reconnection can take place every day, it makes them feel loved, and connected to you, without this sort of uninterrupted connection how do we earnestly get to really know each other?
Simple things such as knowing each other’s favourite colours get lost amongst the ‘busy,’ I get it, I do, but we must do better in order to be better.
More than anything else though, your children want you.
They want your time and your presence.
Together, they want to play, read books, colour in, eat and laugh together.
They want the reassurance in knowing that when they need you, you will be there.
In the simplest of ways, we are showing them that they are important to us, because even on our busiest day we can still find the time to STOP and CONNECT.
Hugging creates a burst of the ‘love’ drug called oxytocin, big hugs also give you a burst of dopamine and serotonin these are all-natural brain chemicals that create bonding and promote a positive sense of being, so hug, hug and do more hugging!!
Spend time in nature
Biophilia, as defined by Collins English dictionary is: “An innate love for the natural world, supposed to be felt universally by humankind.”
Time in nature creates a sense of peace and connection. Unhurried time and gratitude for all that surround us. Often our daily and somewhat trivial dramas can disappear once we set foot onto the soft warm sand or feel the green grass between our toes.
Foster an Attitude of Gratitude
If we can appreciate the simple things in our lives such as drinking our coffee while it’s still hot or having an opportunity to sleep in uninterrupted, our sense of wellbeing and joy is increased. Today, think of two simple things that you are grateful for, or better yet, journal it and write it down! When we physically write something down, we tend to hold onto that feeling and sense of peace for the rest of our day.
You might like to take your practice of gratitude deeper and start a gratitude journal and every day make the space to write a list of the things that you are grateful for. Start small then add onto it daily.
Amber Murley Photography
Why are we always having to be somewhere, or do something? I challenge you to have one whole day at home pottering around, playing with your children reading a book or the paper. No screen time put all of your devices on aeroplane mode and see how you feel after one whole day of doing very little.
Let’s grow our children with simplicity, slow and connection because peace really does begin at home, and this truly reflects reclaiming your joy as a parent!