silhouette of mother father child against sunset with tree

Are you a parent and struggling to meet your own needs?

Have you been wondering how to possibly take care of yourself when you are so busy taking care of others?

Let’s talk about it.

 

As a mom, or dad, you get that nourishment is important. You work hard to meet your kids’ needs. You worry about them getting enough sleep, eating well, getting a good education, having friends, and feeling happy, healthy, and strong. We know you do everything in your power to give your kids what they really need. We know because we are doing the same for our families.

But where do you fit in? So often it can seem like the parent’s needs are in direct competition to the child’s needs. Am I right?

How can we possibly take care of ourselves as parents when our kids need so much of our time and attention? It’s hard. It’s a balancing act that never quite…balances.

We’ve come up with another way of approaching this dilemma. Because once you are in a “me versus them” place, you’re stuck. And probably resentful. That’s not good for anybody.

So how can we move from competing needs into a Working System? Because what is a family, if not a system, that needs to work together? Everyone is included in a system. You are included in the system. We’re not saying it’s easy, or that it’s a fixed system. No, a family requires ongoing evolution, growth and attention because it is alive and dynamic.

So here are some thoughts on what is required to move out of competition, and into a Working System for you family:

  1. Secure attachments. This just means that each member of the family can trust the other members to be loving, respectful, and considerate. Babies will actually very early on start to “help” their parents by moving their bodies to be easily picked up when mom or dad reaches for them, or molding themselves just so in your arms while you are holding them. This very subtle yet powerful kind of cooperation is what secure attachment can provide. When babies and children feel they are being responded to accurately enough, then they work with the parents, which means more connection, less confusion and discord. In the longer run you’ve got kids who (with encouragement of course) will be more willing to pitch in and help out for the family.

  2. Awareness & Advocacy. When we continue to build self-awareness then we continue to build empowerment. Because when we understand what is going on internally, then we can better care for ourselves and live less in a reactive place, and more in a place of compassion. This automatically leads to advocacy. For example, if you know you get really drained from big social events and crowds, then you will plan accordingly and advocate for much needed down time after these types of occasions. Gone will be the meltdowns that inevitably occur when we feel totally “fried” but have no idea why. Children will learn from this kind of role modeling and will feel more confident in their own lives doing the same. And advocating for ourselves comes across much easier, than when we make demands from a place of overwhelm. With awareness and advocacy everyone feels like they have the space to be true to themselves, without having to fight for it.

  3. Boundaries are number one when it comes to self-care. Learning how to set them by being for yourself, and not against anyone or anything is the key. You love yourself enough to say no, not today, no thank you. This is a skill set that is built over time and with practice. But when we care for ourselves in this way, then the reality shifts around us. Again, boundaries need not be a fight, but a simple truth. “This doesn’t work for me right now.” When we are working with boundaries the paradox is we are more able to be flexible when the time comes. If we are paying attention to the boundaries that really matter, then the smaller things have less weight and more room for negotiation and compromise. Which as I’m sure you know, is another part of the Family as a Working System.

 

Those are three biggies. And this blog can’t possibly address the depth of each.  This is just the beginning of the conversation.  We have some more to share with you next week. The reason we bring this up is because we can see a trajectory when it comes to wellness, especially in women and mothers, that too often leads to burn-out and health collapses. If you want to cultivate personal wellness, than we need to talk about how we relate to ourselves, and what environment we are trying to work this out in. So often, clients feel overwhelmed trying to be enough for their families and their careers, for the world, but haven’t taken the time to build resilience in these essential areas. Self-regard and self-worth are foundations for wellness. When our worth increases, we struggle less in the world because we automatically regard ourselves in a way that includes deep caring and consideration. We invite you to consider these ingredients for a Working System and your own. What has worked for you in your life?