Gentle parents are very adept at seeing things from a child’s eye view. OK, so not all the time, when it is over something seemingly so irrational as now wanting the green cup when they have just spent the last 30 minutes screaming for the red one. But on the whole, it makes good sense to try and get down to their level and empathise with how it must be to be someone with big feelings inside a tiny body.
We know this. Yet somehow we fail to apply the same logic to ourselves.
We tend to forget that big people have a hard time too.
We all know the quote:
"Your child is not giving you are hard time. They are having a hard time."
Well, I’d like you repeat after me:
"I am not giving anyone a hard time. I am having a hard time.”
Coping with the ever-present threat of Covid and the challenges of lockdown life has made for a uniquely hard time for all sorts of reasons.
We’ve been stuck in fight-fight-freeze mode for the best part of a year. Even simple decisions like...
Beyond the pile of laundry, never ending ‘to do’ list, meal prep, bottom wiping, pot washing and general chivvying up, much of the heavy lifting of motherhood is emotional.
And emotional labour is often more exhausting than all the physical tasks put together.
Being present for your child during a tantrum.
Creating enough space for them to safely express their full range of emotions.
Regulating yourself well enough to avoid being triggered.
Developing your own emotional literacy so you can better support your child.
Particularly when many of these beautiful gifts may not have been offered to YOU as a child.
All of this is exhausting.
In containing your child’s big emotions, you also need to find ways to be held...
That holding can be grounding yourself in the present moment through what you can see, hear and touch.
That holding can be offering yourself a soothing gesture (hand on...
I've been thinking about why it is so difficult to be kind to ourselves.
I've come to the conclusion that one of the reasons is because we are on a never-ending self improvement treadmill.
There’s a large part of most of us that thinks we should do better, be better people, become better parents.
In that context, being kind to yourself can feel deeply uncomfortable.
It’s like you are slacking off.
You feel like if you ceased to - do all the things, listen to all the podcasts, read all the books, try all the strategies, attend all the programmes - you would have no chance of being that better person.
So you continue to think ‘must try harder’ and ‘could do better’ which are actually subtle - or not so subtle - manifestations of your inner critic.
And yet, interestingly, research (Breines & Chen, 2012) shows that self compassion actually increases motivation
* to make amends when you’ve done something wrong
* to keep trying following an...