As parents we are faced with a world we cannot control.
While this has always been true, the events of the last few years have faced us with this reality. Being out of control feels scary and we can often end up being triggered into our fight, flight, freeze mode. Stockpiling resources, drinking more alcohol, spending lengthy sessions scrolling on the internet, expecting our children to behave all the time and shutting down our emotions are some ways we try to seek the peace and control we crave.
This week I ended up at the hospital with my daughter who needed IV antibiotics. As I thought about entering a building that potentially brought us into contact with Covid, I needed to search for some ways to reassure myself when little about the situation was within my control.
As parents we need to find this place of reassurance so we can help our children stay calm and regulated.
"What can I control?"
Myself, that’s it. All that I am able to control are my thoughts, my feelings, my reactions, actions and where I place myself.
When children come into my presence they sense whether I am a place of safety, calm and connection or they experience my lack of regulation. Vygostsky calls this the ‘Zone of Proximal Development.’ Being with an adult who is regulated, provides a child with the support to begin to regulate themselves.
How do I reassure myself and regulate as a parent so that I can provide this for my children?
I listen to music and find myself drawn to particular songs that calm me and provide me structure and predictability.
I breathe. Simply taking long, slow, deep breaths has been proven to re-set our brains.
I move. Movement helps to provide our body and brain with the rhythm it needs so that we can move back to a place of calm. I go for regular walks to do this.
I need hugs. Touch is so crucial to our wellbeing.
I connect with my spiritual side. For me this involves praying, meditating and journalling about what I am learning and reading.
Gardening gives me a chance to be in the present, enjoy the sun on my back and my hands in the soil. I get the satisfaction of starting and finishing a task. It gives me a sense of control, whether it is weeding or deadheading.
I purposefully look for moments of joy. It is in the small things such as a beautiful sunset, the sleeping face of my child or a moment of silence.
Sometimes the reality of parenting is that I get to take my deep breaths in the toilet, I only get to drink half a cup of coffee before I race out the door and the music is on in the car as I drive to pick a child up from school. I need to ask someone for a hug (rather than it being offered) and I schedule walking with a friend otherwise it would never happen. I journal late at night and fall asleep halfway through and the book hits the floor with a bang.
With the added layer of stress that Covid brings, I am aware of the need to look after myself so that I can provide calm for my children.
Peace within a Covid world starts within me.
Peace within a Covid worlds starts within you.
What can you incorporate in your day to bring some peace into your world? What moments can you pause in and add in something that brings you moments of peace and calm?