There's no denying that two years into the pandemic, many of us are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, spent. Whatever word you use, the end result is we are stretched thin and have very little to give. One area of concern I often hear from parents is wanting to give more to their child but not having anything left as they are barely holding it together. If you are such a parent, read on for some tips on being able to hold it together.
1) Acknowledge that you don't feel safe - Let's face it, questions like - do I or my kid have COVID? Will my child(ren) be in person or virtual next week? Can we go visit our family and friends? - is anxiety provoking and draining. This constant questioning comes from the unpredictability of our situation right now. This same unpredictability make us feel threatened and/or unsafe, which in turn can often spark feelings of anger, sadness and fear. And chances are if you are feeling this way, your child may also feel the same. So first step, acknowledge that you are feeling what many other human beings are feeling - scared and unsafe.
2) Identify and Name your Emotion - identifying and naming how you feel can be extremely helpful in being able to "keep it together." As adults, we often don't allow ourselves to pay attention to how we feel and fess up to it. I'm talking about feelings like sad, mad, scared and worried - core emotions we all experience as humans. Engaging in distracting responsibilities like work, school, cleaning, etc., is something we often do to ignore how we feel. Unfortunately, doing so ultimately does a disservice to your mind, body and spirit.
3) Express Yourself - another key to holding it together, is ironically enough, letting your feelings out. Doing so can look like talking about your feelings to someone who can validate you instead of dismissing you. It can also look like energetically releasing the emotion. In other words, do you slam something or scream when you are angry? Cry, sing or lounge around when you are sad?
Expressing your feelings verbally or physically can be a great way to make sure your feelings don't get stuck. Not sure where to get started? I often recommend hitting pillows, couches or beds with a pool noodle. Squeeze the heck out of a squishy ball. Do you our your child have fidget toys? If so, feel free to play with any fidget that may be throwable and squeezable. These often can be used to release anger.
For feelings of sadness, try staying in your pj's/comfy clothes all day, order in, and/or indulge in your favorite show. This last one can be done with or without your child - whatever allows you to feel connected with yourself. Need a good cry? Cue up the music that makes you ball and have a good deep cry. Journaling your emotions can also help with feelings of sadness and anger.
In summary, this time we are in truly sucks! There is so much unpredictability and when we don't know what to expect, it messes with our sense of safety. Aside from getting triggered, let's not forget the parent guilt that hovers over us especially when we see our child(ren) suffering. As a human who is caring for another human be kind to yourself and know that being able to take time to read this blog shows you are already on the path of "keeping it together".
I wish you strength and compassion on your parenting journey.
Thank you for your reading.
Improve my self-esteem. Work on my personal relationship(s). Have more fun with my child(ren. The list can go on and on. Regardless of what is on your Resolution list, it is important to remember there are certain aspects that must hold true in order to increase your chances of success and reduce the likelihood of failing to achieve your goals/desires for this year.
1). It Must Come From You- many of our intentions for change originate from good places but they are not often our own. In many cases, they can be other people's recommendations or beliefs of what we should be doing, what we should look like, how we should be living our life and/or what kinds of relationships we have. And while you may want to pursue such changes, unless you truly have the desire to embark on the journey for yourself, the chances of success can be minimal. Therefore, take some time to reflect on what you feel you have the energy for.
2). You Must Have a Plan - Once you identify what YOU want to work on, you then decide how you want to get there. Devise a plan that is realistic with the pursuit of your goals by sitting down with a pen and paper and answering these questions:
- what do you specifically want to improve? - why do you want to improve?
- how can you make it happen?
Not sure how to make to happen? I personally find inspiration from listening to how professionals and non-professionals are navigating their journey. My favorite go to that fits into my mom life is podcasts. Searching for keywords and looking for episodes in the podcast app can be extremely helpful.
3) You Will Need Perseverance - Any aspiration worth attaining usually takes "blood, sweat and tears." In other words, hard work, dedication and routine are usually required. When you find yourself exhausted, wanting to quit, refer back to your list of reason(s) for pursuing your goal(s) and review your plan of action. Your plan may need to be modified based on what you have learned about what works and what doesn't. Sometimes modifying the plan can help to reinvigorate your motivation.
Overall, time and patience are required to reach your goals. And by time, I mean, time to get a handle on what does and doesn't work for you. And when I say patience, I mean, not being hard on yourself because you couldn't get from point A to Z within a given timeframe.
Good luck on your 2022 ambitions and be sure to leave a comment if you have questions or need resources.
Of the many things I love to do, playing board games is one of them. Monopoly anyone??? Playing adult games when you are an adult can be fun and exciting, but playing kids games as an adult can be tricky. Depending on the age of your child, it can elicit feelings of boredom, frustration and competition.
In order to avoid this, it is vital to be aware of the potential blocks that can turn a fun, bonding experience into a stressful one that the child and family ultimately avoid. Below are 5 ways to help make playing games a fun, interesting and family bonding experience.
1). It's Not About Winning - at least not on the part of the parent/guardian. Playing a board game should be primarily about the child winning. Now, you may be thinking - "But Christine, how will my child learn not to be a sore loser or about the facts of life, if I let them win?" I hear you and I'm here to say - if you are trying to foster a stronger connection with your child, that starts with you being able to let your child win at a board game.
Hear me out....winning a game is more about the child feeling they have a sense of mastery. This is something they rarely get a chance to feel, especially in relation to adults. Allowing them to feel like they are beating you, can make them feel like the King/Queen of the World - and let's face it, we all want to feel like we have conquered something. Plus, you will also be showing them how to lose fairly.
So, play your best but be sure to not make it about you winning. Also, this doesn't mean you don't win at all. It just means that we want our children to know how amazing it feels to beat someone who seems stronger than you.
2) It's Not About Teaching - another area where I see some parents/guardians get too focused on is trying to make the game a teachable moment. Playing a game with a child should be about the fun of it vs. using it as an opportunity to have them recite their colors, showcase their reading skills and/or define words. Now, if your child offers to do this, then awesome, take their lead. But, be sure to bring it back to the play zone. Your child will have enough time in life to learn.
3) It's Not About Following the Rules- playing games do have rules but this is not the time we have to be a stickler about the rules. Depending on the age of your child(ren), you will have some children that are all about the rules but children younger than six typically just want to play the way they feel like. As long as any other child who is playing is on board to do the same, then just go with the flow.
4). It IS About Having Fun - playing games is about laughing, smiling and connecting during the time you are with each other. When we can learn to let go of what we think game play should look like with a child, and allow our child(ren) to lead, we can end up having a lot more fun.
5) Choose Enjoyable and Non-complicated games - games I often recommend and even have in my household and office include the following - Candy land, Connect four, Memory/Matching cards and Charades. I personally love a charades game called Kids on Stage. This game allows kids as young as three to play and reading is not required. I've even had adults play this game too and it can be hysterical.
Some other games I would recommend for kids 7+ include Pictionary, Guess Who and Jenga. These games can also be played with younger kids but you will really need to flex the rules.
Thoughts? Questions? Feedback? Leave them in the comments below.
Christine M. Valentín
Welcome to my blog where I provide tips on feeling more hopeful, in control of your parenting life and tips on bonding with your child(ren).
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