What do you say to a visitor when they spill a drink? What would you say if they came round and forgot something, if they weren’t quite with it or weren’t their usual chirpy selves? What would you say if they told you that they weren’t sleeping well and felt tired or weren’t feeling that hungry when you had made them lunch? How would these scenarios make you feel?
Now think about how you would respond to your children in these same situations? Are they given the same empathy, compassion and understanding? Would these scenarios evoke the same feelings if it was your child saying and doing these things instead of a friend? Probably not and that’s so common. I used to be exactly the same, but why? Where do these unrealistic high standards and expectations that we have for our children come from?
Let’s think about what these reactions might look like for our children…
If they spill something, they are clumsy. If they get carried away playing, they’re making a mess. If they struggle to sleep, they’re playing up. If they’re not 100% happy they’re moody, grumpy, irritable. If they’re not perfect they’re naughty. If they get something wrong, they should know better…….
I used to ride this same rollercoaster, tell my children off, feel guilty, stressed, anxious and sometimes wonder what on earth this parenting thing was all about! And don’t get me wrong I loved being a mum, we had so many amazing moments together and I was a good mum! But I was also exhausted, and I didn’t find it easy.
I was parenting to raise the perfect child, to be the perfect mum, to please everyone around me, even strangers in the street!
I realised that I had got it so wrong.
Everything I needed to know about parenting my child was in their eyes, their words and every aspect of their very being. I realised how lost I had been and discovered myself, not just as a parent but as a person within my own right.
I woke up and saw this amazing little person in front of me. A little person with an incredible personality and qualities, going through the rollercoaster of everyday, just as I was but with much less knowledge and understanding.
I learnt to be conscious and connect, and the stress and anxiety slowly melted away. I felt more free and alive than I had in my whole life and suddenly I got it! Not just parenting but life. I learnt to live in the moment, and I mean really live. Not just existing, running the hamster wheel or going along on a travellator. I mean actually be present, experiencing every moment and truly embracing it!
The biggest part of this was learning to pause and let go.
I let go of “I should”, “I wish I could”, “I must”, “I should have”, “I wish I didn’t.” Most importantly, letting go of what other people think and the need to feel validated by others. I learnt to accept myself and my family; to love and embrace our life just as it is.
Some days I am super mum juggling it all and have everything in place. Other days the house is a mess, my daughter eats breakfast on the way to school, I forget her water bottle and at the end of the I day I look back and think whoa today was tough but woohoo go me! We got through it!
I’ve learnt to put my energy where it needs to be in the moment and accept that’s just how it is right now.
Most importantly, I make sure that my emotional cup is as full as my children’s.
When our children feel overwhelmed, we need to see these outbursts as opportunities to connect with them and teach them how to understand, express and manage these feelings, how to stay calm, how to respond to disappointments and even excitement.
When we feel overwhelmed, we need to listen to our body’s needs and top up our emotional cup by resting, letting something go or even doing something just because it makes us feel good!
Our purpose is to raise our children to be the best versions of who they already are and prepare them for life, which means showing them that we are all human, we all experience a wide range of feelings every day and every feeling is ok. We all need to pause and rest and make sure that we look after our wellbeing. We are ALL still learning and growing, and mistakes are very much a part of this.
When my perspective changed, my world changed, and I never look back or forward because I’m truly content where I am!
Thank you to Jodie Smart, founder of Sunny Kids Shine, for sharing these important messages.
Whilst we cannot predict the future for our children, Jodie is a great believer in equipping our children with the tools they need to be able to SHINE* through any storms that they may face. Through her Sunny Kids Shine program, Jodie introduces mindfulness to young children aged 3-7 years old and helps make BIG feelings child size. Her program is available to parents, carers and practitioners in education, health and social care. (*SHINE: Secure, Healthy, Independent, Nurtured and Empowered).
Jodie has a background in education and is passionate about supporting parents, carers and professionals to create emotionally enabling environments, so that all children develop a love and zest for learning and life, able to shine their light to become the best versions of their true authentic selves.