Being Kind to Yourself....
*A blog post from Sarah, Changing Futures Fostering Manager. Main Image illustration by Hannah Jacobs for Yahoo Beauty*
Parents and carers often talk about the hours when children are at school. For most they have a six hour window of getting jobs done and preparing for children coming home, so it’s not quite a morning at the spa.
However during the years that I have worked with parents and carers they will often express guilt if they are having “me time”. I mean how dare you meet friends for a coffee, have your nails done or a round of golf, you should be ironing or prepping the tea or doing something of worth and the first thing I say is “STOP”.
Why are you less worthy of time to take a breath, feel relaxed, talk about something else or anything else that makes you feel good. Truth be told, you’re not but what you do have to do is give yourself permission.
I ask those I’m working with to reflect back to the morning school run, was it fraught? Did you feel stressed? Were the children stressed going in to school? and on most occasions the answer is simple.
Yes, for all three. Mornings are tough, multi-tasking is something so overused we don’t even realise we are doing it, uniforms, packed lunch, bags packed, washed, dressed, breakfast, has everyone got the right shoes on, do we have coats, have we put notes for teachers in bags, who needs P.E. kits, fruit for breaks…………….and the list goes on and all of this whilst being asked vital questions like “Why is the earth round?” “Can we go to Disneyland Paris on Saturday?” “Can I have some sweets?” and tell tailing at epic levels because she hit me but actually I never because he kicked me under the table and she’s got my stuff.
Exhausted yet, feeling high level of recognition to a morning routine that is so full on, a week in Tenerife feels on the cards.
So why then is time to regroup/ relax not important, simple answer again, IT IS. Not all of us want to go out but we do want to give ourselves some brain space. We want to feel calm, we want to feel ok because ok is often all we have.
But we are now in unprecedented times and all the work we put in to allowing ourselves a little time off during the school day is no longer available. We are all together 24/7 and things feel tough, we are speaking through gritted teeth, over breathing, raising our voices and feeling pretty awful because other people manage, they are all fine.
Well they aren’t, they feel like you but who is going to post that on social media or text a friend to say they are the worst human being on the planet because they did this dreadful thing, they lost their cool a bit.
So how do we manage not having a break?
There are lots of different things we could do, we could run a house military precision style, a full timetable with exact timings for everything, we will know where we stand at any point in the day. We could go completely to pot, have no routine whatsoever and sleep when we want, eat what we want and do what we want but none of these will give us inner calm because we will either feel let down because by ten past nine the routine went catastrophically wrong due to YouTube not loading, resistant participants and Joe Wicks asking us to lunge to places we haven’t felt for quite some time or everyone being awake until 3 in the morning because no one got up until the day was nearly over.
Instead, let’s start by being kind to ourselves, you are not a teacher, an educational psychologist, a social worker or a family worker, you’re a parent or a carer and that is your first task.
If you feel overwhelmed, you are overwhelmed. You’ve started the English work set but you don’t understand it, that’s ok, admit it and say something crazy like “Why don’t we draw”. Get the art stuff out, make a mess, change things up but while the children are busy and most love making mess,, pop in to the kitchen and have a deep breathe, bite down on a tea towel or make a hot drink.
Remind children of their school tummies, treats are fine but there isn’t a one way ticket to the fridge where Willy Wonka has been filling it up overnight.
Try not to use shame, your children are out of routine too. They want reassurance at a time you feel overwhelmed and for many children food is comfort. Set up a shop, make coins from cardboard and set realistic prices, the shop will be open at 10.30, how exciting and coins will be earned.
For children who are feeling “fizzy” and finding the lack of school hard, ask them how you can help. Ask them what they are missing, it might be their teacher so write to them because they are missing them too. It might be not having a routine so put one in place for that child but not so much for the other child or children. You see, like you, children are unique and they need different things so one size won’t fit all.
Lastly, but definitely not least, be kind, to yourself, to your partner (the hardest task of all I would say) and the children. Kindness isn’t giving them their own way or letting them rule the house, this often makes them feel heightened, kindness is laughing together, admitting our mistakes, feeling joy at things that have not quite gone to plan.
Dance together, put make up on, let them draw for two hours, kick that ball against the garage, the neighbours will cope as it’s only for an hour, and stop being hard on yourself. You’re doing well, we all cry, we all feel anxious but we are doing our best and it’s all we have. In a world where you can anything…………… (fill in as you wish).