Updated: Mar 20
Welcome to the last part of parenting series. After all the information here, here and here and some discussion on good enough parenting, I will end this series on a personal note, discuss how can we make things come alive in our home.
After much talk, it is only fair if you ask "How to make this happen - this good enough parenting thing? and are you walking the walk, Kumsal?"
My short answer is , yes I am doing my best. Every single day. and that's what counts.
Grounding the theories to real life is very important. We can talk until dawn but if we don’t talk the talk and walk the walk. That’s just total crap.
Here is what I think and what we do in our home.
1- You can't fill from an empty cup.
It is that simple. In my previous post, I briefly mentioned about self-care. It is VERY important so I am going to detail it here.
We all get tired once in a while. Parenting is a full time job, it requires a lot of energy. We are also dealing with other things; our job, career, families, daily hassle with life, government bureaucracy (if you are an immigrant...) , and many more.
Slowly, things can wear you down. As parents we need to be RESILIENT and resilience does mean endurance.
Resilience is defined as "the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties". The word itself implies rest and recovery.
If you are burned down, lost and bone marrow tired CONSTANTLY - I guarantee that you won't be at your best self and will want to throw things out the window, including your kid.
You need time to recover and get back. That's why the most important part of parenting is self care.
The heart of self-care
When I say self care I do not mean going for a mani-pedi or hair salon. or retail therapy.
They are all good and well. (I admit buying bath bombs lately!) But, I am talking about some serious psychological care here.
You need to be mentally healthy to help and be available for your child. In order to do that, you have to take care of your own mental health. (You can see my post for understanding mental health and how to improve it in general.)
If you are feeling down, depressed, lonely for a long period of time, maybe you might be suffering from postpartum depression or other mood disorders. I encourage you to ask for help if you are not feeling at your best, for prolonged time. There is always help available and you do not have suffer in silence.
You need to feel good & healthy so that you can show up for your family and yourself.
Becoming a mother is a huge identity shift and it takes time to integrate this role (2 years and still counting...)
and that sleep deprived 1st year after you become a parent, oh that doesn't help. I remember vividly around the 9 months mark, I was feeling like losing it, as a full-time working mother...functioning on 4 hour sleep continuously.
So, start easy : Be gentle to yourself.
Fact: Parenting is tough. It is demanding. It's never ending.
Parenting through a pandemic - hands down, you are a champ! Give yourself a break. You are doing your best every single day.
If you are having a bad day, that's okay. Give yourself a pat on the back and talk gently.
Here is an helpful infographic of mine, indicating the heart of self-care: Positive self-talk.
I encourage you to monitor your thoughts, feelings and the way you talk to yourself. Especially when you are feeling depressed, worried or anxious. Are you possibly telling yourself that you are a ... mother ( fill in the blank with some judgmental adjective), or that things will NEVER get better? Are these thoughts realistic and true?
Maybe you are getting stuck in vicious cycle of unhelpful thoughts and beliefs, then feeling anxious or depressed. (I do!)
Then, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy based skill building programs such as Living Life to the Full or Bounce Back can make wonders. I personally benefited from LLTTF a lot how to talk a bit gentler to myself.
Try to talk a bit gentler to your self. You don't need to be your worst critique. Tell yourself you are doing fine. Tell that you are worthy and you are good enough. Now, say this again, couple more times.
Do what you enjoy
Before you were a mother or a father, I suppose you had a life. All of us did.
Remember what you enjoyed doing. Did you used to go to gym before you had a child? or did you used to play a musical instrument?
Now, maybe can you try staying active at home, 15min-30min maybe or going back to gym by taking shifts? (once they open...) Maybe you can again play your piano or guitar in the evenings or weekends. You must create time for what you enjoy.