My greatest influence as a parent

It really has been a crazy year and although in many ways life is returning to some sort of “normal”, this crisis has made a lasting impact. For some of us, we value being able to see loved-ones and catch up with friends more than we did before. For others, the ability to go to the gym is something we didn’t realise was so crucial for our mental health. For others, perhaps we are more content now with just being at home and enjoying “slowing down” (maybe even wishing life wouldn’t speed up again!). A crisis, though devastating and challenging, is always an opportunity to learn something new about life, about what we value, about ourselves…

Over the years of mothering three young children and running a business, I must be honest in saying I’ve too often been guilty of thinking I need to “run myself into the ground” in order to best impact those around me for the better. For those who know me well, I have been very good at “doing” and not so great at “being”… COVID has challenged me to confront this in myself.

What I am learning (slowly…. as I’m a little stubborn), is that the greatest way I impact others, and most importantly my children, is not by “losing myself in being busy”. Rather, it’s by making space in my heart and mind to care for myself intentionally, so I can most effectively model what I value in how I live my life.

What this has looked like for me practically is:

  • Instead of working harder to prove I can do everything (because I’m superwoman… right??), I practice being brave enough to put my hand up and ask for help.
  • Instead of burying my emotions when life gets overwhelming and kidding myself that I’m “resilient”, I actually practice resilience by acknowledging that I’m overwhelmed and then give myself some space to work through those feelings.
  • Instead of running around the house cleaning like crazy and getting frustrated that my children keep walking their dirty feet inside or spreading their Lego on the floor (does anyone else’s house seem far more messy when they are stressed??), I first take a breath. I go outside and jump on the trampoline with my children for a bit. I give myself time to have some fun so when I do tackle the mess I’m a little “kinder” to myself and my family about it. (To be honest, that last point is really more of an aspiration at the moment – very much a work in progress!).

What the last few months have caused me to really reflect on is this: One of the most important responsibilities I have as a parent, is to live out the values I desire for my children and for me that includes courage, integrity, resilience, respect and kindness. These values are very difficult to live out if I am emotionally and mentally exhausted and I am not practicing caring for myself.

More than any conversation, lecture or lesson, it is my every day example, my life’s story as I live out my values as their mum, that will be their greatest teacher. (And yes, that includes the mess and mistakes!!).

Although I haven’t enjoyed this COVID-19 crisis and our family has struggled like many in our community, in many ways I am thankful, as it has shaped and changed me and will continue to do so.

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