Updated: Aug 26, 2021
As the year comes to a close and we reflect on the year, it has undoubtedly been a tough and challenging one for the collective. Our little ones have experienced monumental changes to their routine overnight with no warning and little understanding of what is happening in the world. When young children who are still learning to communicate experience a change as great as this, we expect to see those responses in their behaviour.
They may try to “tell” you things by being restless, moody, withdrawing or regressing into earlier behaviours such as wanting their pacifier, wetting the bed or waking up frequently at night. As parents, we may become frustrated with our children for “acting up” when we already have to deal with new daily stresses like working from home and managing the household whilst being constantly interrupted and close to everyone.
It is important to remember that we are all in uncharted territory together and that you are doing the best you can given these unprecedented circumstances.
Prioritising you to give the best to your child
Pre-covid, your family would probably have been used to having time apart during the day while you’re at work and the kids in school, or your child at childcare or with another family member. Being stuck at home together throughout the day may make it feel impossible to find time for yourself. If you co-parent, take turns for alone time and collaborate your daily schedules. It allows you to focus on your responsibilities whilst keeping your children safe and occupied. If you do not have any help, plan out your child’s schedule and use their “nap time” to catch up on work, or sneak in a quick episode of your favourite tv show you’re your child is too old for naps, why not schedule “Reading Time or Quiet Play Time” so you can catch up on work. Remember to plan your day out and be as flexible as things change.
As parents, you set the tone of the household; your children look up to you. They model your behaviour in the outside world. They repeat the things they hear you say, and they unconsciously treat themselves the way you do. So, make sure to look after yourself and your mental health by doing activities you love to reduce your stress levels. Find self-care strategies that work for you, and remember self-care looks different for everybody.
Here are some ways to love yourself
Exercise- A walk in the park, a 30 minutes yoga class or even dancing to your favourite music for 20 minutes straight are great activities you can do to get your heart rate up, burn some calories and engage your muscles! Keeping you healthy and, most importantly, happy!
Cook- You already have to anyway for the family; why not take the time to experiment and try something new. Rope in your kids to help with washing up or grabbing items from the fridge or pantry.
Coffee Dates- Get out of the house and take a walk down to your local coffee shop. A simple routine of getting dressed, walking out and grabbing a cuppa whilst listening to your favourite music is oddly soothing! We recommend you try it!
And while you’re doing all these things, where are your kids? Well, if you don’t have someone to watch over them, think about ways your child can join you. Buckle baby into your job stroller and go! Yoga class? Why not put a towel down next to your mat for your toddler to join you. While you still need some alone time, there are ways to invite your little ones to share in these moments of calm.
Children learn from us and imitate our behaviours whether we notice them or not. Having them watch us stay supported and prioritise our mental health leads to them finding ways to support themselves emotionally as they get older and begin to deal with life’s stressors. It is immensely underrated but an essential strategy to have in our toolkit for survival in the modern world. The sooner our children learn these things from us, the better they become at responding to difficult situations, and I promise you won’t just feel better. You’ll show up better for your family as well.