How can parents get through the next few months? Self- care isn’t optional!

I can’t believe that I am still writing about the collective trauma of the Covid 19 pandemic! It’s starting to feel worse than “Groundhog” day as we face the uncertain weeks running up to Christmas. Nothing feels quite right and we don’t know when it will end. I’ve written before about resilience and the need to support our children and young people by listening and trying to understand their feelings and their underlying needs, but how do we help them when we are running on low batteries ourselves? One of the most important things we can do is to remember that we don’t have to be perfect!

It seems that most parents only get their communication with their children right or roughly right about two thirds of the time. The other third is often made up of communication which is out of tune with their child’s needs. However, this is actually good enough! You don’t have to get it right all the time for your child to be OK, as long as you know how to make up with them when it all goes wrong. It is OK not to be on top of everything and coping brilliantly, especially at the moment. In fact, is it possible for us to become our own best friend and allow ourselves some compassion?

It’s all right to pick our battles when we are overwhelmed, to praise ourselves for getting through another day, to allow ourselves to rest when we are tired and to say no if we feel drained and empty. It’s also all right to acknowledge our own suffering without minimising it because it’s not as “bad” as someone else’s. Feelings of guilt and shame are toxic and paralysing and actually prevent us from feeling empathy for other people, because we are too self-occupied. So, self- compassion becomes an essential if we are to support others, whether they are our children or wider family and friends. We know that the quality of our relationships is one of the most important things which help us cope during difficult times. Starting to improve the relationship we have with ourselves may be the most important step to take as we navigate the remaining weeks of this strangest of years. 

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