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How to parent smarter not harder.

Parents, cut yourselves some slack this summer

My intention was to write a blog post full of exciting things to do this summer that would help your children catch up lost ground after a year of lockdowns and remote learning. But, to be honest, I can’t drag myself to do it. I’m tired. And my brain has no energy for drumming up ideas. It’s blank.

I haven’t had an especially hard week – just the usual juggle of work and home and children. But the last year is catching up with me. I can feel the accumulated stress of holding it all together in such extreme circumstances is now bubbling to the surface.

I thought I knew all about the pressures of being a working mum but this year has been a whole new level. Like many parents, I had little choice but to put myself on the line in order to manage a full on workload while simultaneously stepping up to the challenge of supporting my children through Covid. There were early mornings and late nights trying to get it all done and many hours in the middle of the night fretting about failing to give my family ‘enough’ of me.

At the time, I was in that survival mode where you rise to a challenge no matter how big and no matter what the personal cost. At times, I knew I was crossing the line of what was healthy for me but it didn’t feel like I had too many choices. When you’re the parent of a child who is going through a hard time, there are no choices. You just have step up and try to help.

It’s only now, looking back, that I am coming to understand how far I went over the line of burnout. Now that I have finally forced myself to slow down a little, I can appreciate the level of stress in my body and how close to overwhelm I have been living each day.

So, if I’m feeling like this, there’s a good chance other parents are too. And the last thing you need from me is more pressure to step up for your kids. Right now you should be congratulating yourselves for having got through whatever the last year threw at you.

After the year we’ve had, what we really need to do is to rest, be kind to ourselves and cut ourselves a bit of slack. Give ourselves permission to kick back and do a bit less. Lie on the grass and listen to the sound of birdsong. (And maybe allow our children to clamber over us).

Because, of course, if we were to rest, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing for our kids. To have some downtime with us, with no particular agenda. To ease through the moments rather than drive through them. To play with them without our minds whirling with thoughts and worries and tasks we haven’t yet done…

So give yourselves permission this summer, as much as you are able, to create a bit of space just to be. To breathe, to relax, to laugh. To be slow, not always on. To recuperate.

(And if your year has been different from mine and it was advice on helping children bounce back that you wanted, you’ll find plenty here: Helping children get back on track post-lockdown 🙂 ).

photo of parent relaxing in article by parenting expert Anita Cleare

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By Anita Cleare

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