Parenting can feel like a whirlwind in our super busy world, juggling home, family, work and social engagements. Our children keep us almost constantly on the go, and the responsibilities of being a parent can be stressful. Our stress or anxiety rubs off on our children, who often react by being uncooperative when they are feeling the pressure. So how do we slow down, and appreciate what is most important to us?
The simple things in life are often what give us the greatest joy – children playing, being with loved ones, having a good laugh, a beautiful view. Our children view the world with playfulness and innocence, and their perspective can remind us to appreciate these 'simple things'. Following are some ideas for parents, for moving towards less stress.
Simplify what we have and do – the more we have and do, the more there is for us to keep on top of. The latest goods and equipment, and keeping busy with activities and social engagements can take us away from the simple things in life. Reducing our commitments and focussing on our priorities, we can increase our most precious resource, time.
Find time to play – Babies and children learn so much though play. Playing with your baby - with cuddles, touch, eye contact, movement and conversation stimulates brain development as well as emotional development for your child. Playing, laughing and making time for fun uplifts all of our moods, and enhances the bonds between adult and child.
Create space just for yourself - Do something for yourself that you enjoy, every day, or at least once a week! Activities that enhance just 'being' can calm the mind, such as walking/exercise, yoga/meditation, reading and listening to music.
Spend time with friends - Develop and maintain friendships with like-minded people, who uplift and support you. Take the time to create a supportive network around you, as this can make things seem much easier at the times when you need it.
Trust your own judgement - Ourselves and our children are all unique. Tune into your inner wisdom about what is best for you and your children. Don't worry about the conflicting advice from people, books, internet and media. Trust your own instincts, nobody knows your child better than you, do what feels right to you. What works for others may not be best for you.
Prioritise your health - Exercise regularly, and choose healthy foods for yourself and your children – foods with less sugar content, preservatives and colours as these can affect children's behaviour. Cut down on the things you know are bad for you. We need lots of energy to keep up with our children, so make it long lasting energy with healthy foods! Rest and sleep well rather than pushing yourself beyond your physical limits, listen to your body.
Build self- esteem – How you feel about yourself will influence your child's sense of self. We can choose to celebrate the things we like about ourselves and our children. To help this process, try making a list of the things you are good at, and the things you most love about your children. Remember your own and your children's strengths, and as you think, so it shall be.
Ask for help if you are feeling stretched – Sometimes when things get out of balance, we continue trying to cope on our own. Reach out instead. Ask someone for a hand, our friends and people around us usually don't mind being asked. Or seek professional help.
Take good care of yourself – As a parent it can be a challenge to find the time to look after yourself well. But nurturing yourself is the best investment you can make for your children, because we need all our internal resources in order to look after our children well. We need to be well ourselves, in body, mind and spirit. If we imagine ourselves as a cup filled with liquid, we need to be overflowing to be able to offer to our children. We need to keep our cup full.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself and your loved ones.
Try the 'Walking Breath' for a technique to revitalise the body and calm the mind - whilst on a walk outdoors, slowly inhale for three, four or more steps as best suits you. Inhale 1 step, 2 steps, 3 steps, (4 steps or more), and without pausing exhale 1 step, 2 steps, 3 steps, (4 steps or more). Repeat 20-30 seconds and increase gradually over time.
Author: Erika Steller of Light Being Yoga. You can find more out about Erika's Yoga classes by visiting www.lightbeingyoga.wordpress.com