My mental health became far more manageable once I realised (through parenting) the value of understanding, welcoming, celebrating and accepting all emotions. I used to feel like there was something wrong with me when I didn’t feel “happy” or “grateful” or wasn’t “enjoying every precious moment” with my children. Now I realise that there are many factors which can impact my mood and the mood of those around me and I know that for the most part as long as I acknowledge what I’m feeling, sit with it if need be, seek support to release it if necessary, then “this too shall pass” and I don’t get overwhelmed beyond what I would deem my healthy level.
Obviously, your mood can provide challenges when it comes to parenting. Your can’t pour from an empty cup and it’s important to be able to regulate yourself enough that your mood doesn’t negatively impact your children but I also think part of the message of “your emotions are valid and acceptable” needs to be reinforced by your own role modeling. It’s OK to say “Gosh… I’ve just woken up in a bad mood!” or “I am so sorry, hon… I’m just really grumpy this morning and it’s not your fault!”. Children benefit from knowing we are human too but you do need to take care that you don’t make them responsible for your emotions and your moods or overwhelm them with them.
I feel like I am coming out the other side of what has felt like a bit of a challenging period and I suspect outside forces as most people I speak to are experiencing the same; be it having issues with children, partners, friendships or overall feelings of well-being so I thought I would brush up on ideas and share with anyone feeling the same way!
1. The first thing I always recommend when life is overwhelming or your mood IS threatening your parenting or everyday life is to get Listened to. Having a warm, loving listener who is just holding that you are good and wise can help shift those feelings at least enough to get by.
2. Get out in the sunshine… granted part of the general feeling of “blergh” around may be due to us Sydney-siders having just experienced the first few dreary days signifying winter coming but put on the wet weather gear and go jump in some muddy puddles (messy but guaranteed fun)!
3. Call for reinforcements! Grab a friend or family member and get together at a house or park… there’s safety in numbers!
4. Snuggle in bed with some stories!
5. DANCE! Even if you’re not a good dancer (ESPECIALLY if you’re not a good dancer)! Put on some tunes and dance with the kids!
6. Build a fort (an age-old mood and connection booster)!
7. Draw – this is another great tool for regulating emotions. Draw the feelings or draw whatever. I love to play Mr Squiggle based on a TV show when I was younger where once person would draw maybe three basic things such as a circle, a line and a squiggle which the other person would turn into a picture!
Parenting is hard, under-supported, under-valued and poorly paid work! Not only that but general life is always throwing obstacles at us so it’s important to recognise that it can and will be a challenge, to not be afraid to ask for help and support, to look for support wherever you can and to prioritise your own self-care.
I am here for you!
Aunty Ask xx