Understanding parenting energy

What were your energy levels when you were last having fun with your children?

The tired parent

Being a tired parent is nothing new and applies to parents of children at any age.

After a long, demanding day, I needed a health warning when I opened the front door – “Beware, tired and grumpy parent… Ignore for 10 minutes.”. 

Parenting, by definition, is an energy depleting role – it can be the most physically, mentally and emotionally demanding job we ever do.

Research suggests more parents are reporting suffering from parental burnout symptoms (estimated to be 10% in the UK) as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now that we are spending more time at home, it can be easy to overthink and worry about our children’s behaviour, mental health and well-being.

We worry about them having missed friends, activities, events not to mention where they are at school and what they have missed out on academically.

Add to this the comparisons we make on social media, and we’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for feeling like we’re not good enough.

But we are…

Good enough is good enough – there are no perfect parents.

DW Winnicott, psychologist, observed that children don’t need perfection from their parents.  What they need is a parent who is “good enough”, one who tries to do their best for their child.

The evidence is clear, “good enough” is about getting it right 51% of the time.

Don’t beat yourself up about what you think you could or should be doing.

Comparison is the thief of joy so leave it at the door and focus on what you can and are doing with the time and energy you have available.

What emotions do we want our children to catch?

Unfortunately, whatever our intentions our faces can give us away. Our faces display thousands of micro-expressions which are unconsciously under the control of our brains, emotions flick across our faces as we react to events.

Our children are experts at reading our faces and react accordingly – they know what we are thinking/feeling, even if we don’t like to admit it to ourselves.

Emotions are contagious and the research backs this up so what emotions do we want our children to catch?

Increasing your self-awareness as a parent is something I focus on during my course.

Are you a thermometer or a thermostat?

As parents, we set the emotional temperature within our families. I vividly remember as a child, when my parents were happy so was the family and when stressed, we felt it.

A thermometer simply measures the temperature of its environment whereas a thermostat changes the temperature in that room.

Quick question: Do you measure the emotional well-being of your family or change it?

Tiredness makes cowards of us all.

When we are tired our capacity to tackle parenting challenges is low and we can default to unhelpful behaviours for an easy life.

We can learn to avoid confrontation, placate our children and do anything to conserve the little energy we have.

We need energy to be able to turn up our family thermostat.

Changing the emotional temperature in our family

We can’t change our children, all we can do is change our reaction to our children.

If we want to change our family thermostat, we can learn to gradually adjust our behaviour until we start seeing the results we want.

It is about moving forward using small steps e.g. start by being curious about our children’s behaviour so we can learn to stay calm despite what is going on around us.

Having the energy to be a “good enough” parent

This is not about being perfect, it is about trying to do the best we can and managing our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual energy.

I would say that my parenting has been limited by my energy level – the more energy I have, the more I could tackle underlying issues, behaviour and emotions etc.

When we go through tough times, this is particularly true.

When I am stressed, exhausted and feeling down I have a negative impact on my family. I am less likely to manage their arguments and be consistent with boundaries. I am far more likely to give in to whatever makes my life easy in the short-term.

This is life, however, if our habit is to give in and go for “anything for an easy life” it doesn’t do us or our children any favours.

Finding the energy you need to live the life you want

We have a fixed 24 hours every day but our energy levels vary.

Being a good enough parent takes energy and drains it quickly…

Which is why I am on a mission to help working parents manage their emotional, physical, mental as well as spiritual energy.

It is ironic that, if we want to do this for the long-term, we first need to invest time and energy in ourselves.

The changing challenge

Our brains focus on survival which is why they are constantly on the lookout for threats and work to minimise effort for maximum gain.

This is how we quickly adopt bad thinking and behavioural habits and why it is so difficult to change these habits.

On my course, I explained this in more detail as I think it helps us to manage our emotional as well as mental energy.

Understanding the theory and research behind how we can change can help us to make the change we want.

Making lasting change

How many courses have we attended that are great, you leave with plans to change but those intentions quickly get swallowed up by day-to-day living.

From losing weight, taking more exercise to managing your mental and emotional wellbeing so we can be a calmer parent, my course can help you make the change you want.

This is where I am different, I can help you take the action and make the change you want so you can see and feel difference it makes in your day-to-day work and family life.

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