Greg Lubimiv, MSW, CACPT-S
Executive Director Phoenix Centre for Children and Families
With summer coming an end and autumn approaching quickly, many families are either looking forward to the start of school or dreading it….or perhaps both. The start of school, for many parents, means getting back to a different schedule, managing getting children up, dressed, fed and off to school, and dealing with many issues which are connected to school, such as not wanting to go, missing the bus, losing a book, getting homework done, etc.
While parenting is the most rewarding job in the world, it is also the most challenging position you will hold. Parents can often see the issues their child is facing or creating very easily, but a lot of parents miss how they might be adding fuel to their child’s fire or even lighting the fire. Key areas that can hinder parenting your child in a positive manner include:
Tiredness/Lack of energy
It is hard to do anything when you have no energy. Lack of sleep, health conditions, being overworked, having no time for yourself, feeling stressed all the time, are some of the areas that parents have shared they are dealing with. If you are one of these parents, the first step is to become self-aware.
Questions you can ask yourself:
- Do I feel rested when I wake up? Yes…. No….
- Do I feel I have accomplished something at the end of each day? Yes… No…..
- Can I think of something that I did for myself that felt good in the last week. Yes… No….
- Do I get upset over small things that other people or my child does? Yes…. No…
- Are there things that I feel I should have done today that I have not done, and I feel guilty/bad? Yes… NO…
- Do you have any time with other adults (including your partner) when you talk about things other than your child(ren? Yes..No…
If you answer No to two or more of these questions, you probably need to reflect on your self-care.
Strategies for Self-Care:
- Doing something that you enjoy that is just for you (play music, read, take a bath, go bowling, etc.)
- Spend time with other adults talking about something that is of interest to you and makes you laugh. Check out your local MFRC to see what programs are available in your area.
- Create a to-do list each day and before finalizing make sure that you have the time to complete the tasks. If not, remove those things that do not matter. At the end of the day check off what you have done. For those things you did not, just move them to the next day, or consider if it is really necessary to do, or if someone else can help you with this.
- When you are dealing with an issue, stop for a moment and pay attention to how you are feeling. If you are upset, angry, frustrated, etc. stop and use one of the below strategies to calm down….then deal with the issue.
- Count to ten
- Taking a short break
- Deep breathing
- Mindfulness Activities (visit cmfmag.ca)
- Relaxation Techniques (visit cmfmag.ca)
- Exercise (star jumps, push ups, treadwalker, etc.).
- Take a short walk (even inside the house)
- Do a task (put dishes away, make a bed, etc.) to distract yourself.
- Lock yourself in the bathroom and call someone
We are an overwhelmed society in general and one of the most common challenges for most of us is under the heading of “Time Crunch”. For example: You need to leave for work, and your child is having a meltdown. There is not a possibility of creating longer days, they are long enough, but the most effective strategy is what has been shared in routines and expectations. The more consistent and predictable your child’s world is, the fewer surprise issues arise and the easier and less time consuming these issues contain.
Feeling other life/work pressures
We may be under financial stress, have relationships issues, have work issues or a conflict with a close relative…..there are so many things that can impact our lives and how we feel. These pressures can easily effect how we parent and research has shown that if a person who is stressed attempts to deal with a stressful situation there is a higher likelihood of failure.
Some strategies include:
- Being aware of where stresses are occurring in your life and trying to separate these from other areas.
- Talking with someone you trust to vent.
- Talking to a professional who can help you create a better self-awareness as well as strategies for dealing with these.
- Developing a concrete plan to deal with/manage these issues.
Feeling your child is in control of your life, or your child cannot be controlled
It is important to recognize that your child is a child, and their job is not to make your life easy….rather it is your job to make their life safe and easy. That means knowing what their needs are, providing consistency and predictability and establishing routines and expectations. However, there are children who have additional challenges in life, such as autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, who experience trauma, or loss or have special needs that require specific parental strategies. If you feel your child is ‘out of control’ it is best to seek the advice of a mental health agency or to talk with your doctor about resources in your community.