It’s already half-way through 2021 and it’s just occurred to me “where did the year go?” It only felt like last month that I was returning to work after taking some time off over Christmas and here we are already half-way through the year!
Like most of you, I’m also a working parent. Whilst my daughter has now turned 16 and is almost completely independent, I’m still trying to find the balance between work and home and fitting everything in between. This becomes particularly apparent to me when I have additional things happening that are out of the ordinary for me. The Monday to Friday working week is such a fine balancing act at the best of times. When you throw in a curveball like moving house, a warning light suddenly flashing on the dashboard of my car, or even preparing for something exciting like a weekend away, I suddenly find myself in “fight or flight” mode. I try and tell myself that I’m being ridiculous and there are so many others that have a much harder life than me, but often this still doesn’t work and I just have to grit my teeth, push through, and hope that one of the balls I’m juggling doesn’t drop.
When I reflect on these feelings, I often look back to when my child was much younger and scratch my head wondering how on earth, I managed to hold down a busy job as a single Mum when she was much younger? I’m often in the centres when children are arriving or departing with their families. I see young children wandering in or departing without any concept of time and mostly these children are accompanied by a parent who is clearly watching every second of the clock either ensuring they get to work on time, or trying to get home as quickly as they can to do the dinner/bath/bed routine in a timely manner to ensure that they can get up early and do the same routine on time the next day. I remember these evenings when my daughter was small very well. Every minute in the evening was carefully timed to ensure I was able to settle her into her bedtime routine to ensure she would wake up on time in the morning so that we would have a smooth departure for the next day.
Back in those days I would joke and say that my life was just like “Groundhog Day”. For those of you that haven’t heard this term, it’s based on the storyline of a movie that was released in 1993. In the movie, the main character (Bill Murray) is a weatherman who is stuck in a time loop and forced to relive the same day February 2nd aka “groundhog day” repeatedly.
According to the Urban Dictionary the term “groundhog day” is:
“The same day over and over. Doing the same things repetitively.”
“My life never changes. Every day is groundhog day. Eat, work, sleep.”
Several years ago, when my daughter was younger, I did a parenting course that promoted mindfulness to assist with the challenges of parenting in the fast-paced world. I often find that I need to revisit these strategies when I find my life a bit out of balance.
Here are some of the strategies that I find useful.
- Take a moment to be present with your child. Remove all distractions, your phone, social media, email and TV. Stop and listen to what your child is telling you. Focus on deep listening, not listening to respond, but practicing true empathy. Imagine your child’s feelings and respond appropriately.
- Practice acceptance for your child. Being a young child can be hard and can be often overwhelming. Accept your child’s feelings and respond with patience.
- Show compassion for yourself. Be kind to yourself. Realise that everyone struggles and these feelings are normal. Instead of judging and blaming ourselves, we can stop and recognise that parenting is a process of learning. If your first approach didn’t work the way you wanted, try something else the next time. Many people have very little experience being kind to themselves.
Whilst life can be fast-paced, these simple tips can bring some perspective and make life far more enjoyable.
“We can’t control everything that happens, but we can change our experience of those things” 33 of the Best Meditation Quotes – Headspace
I’m spending the next six months taking my own advice and working on practicing mindfulness. We only have one life and I’m working on not letting mine pass by without being in the moment.