You wake to the day, with the energy of a small turtle. And to top it off, the children are fighting in the lounge room over who is playing with what first and then there is the ‘not too much food in the fridge for breakfast scenario’ happening in your head. And that’s before the day begins…
As parents, we are ever familiar with the many skills and arms needed to manage our household and our emotional and physical health as well as care and nurture our children. Whether you go to paid work or are a stay at home Muma or not, this blog is the same for all parents on crazy busy days. Regardless of our choices and circumstances the emotional fatigue and frustration is something we can all appreciate and relate too and something that deeply connects us. The upside to these days is we get to meet with friends, get out of the house, get fresh air and be productive and feel like we are accomplishing something. The downside is they can also be challenging not only for ourselves but overwhelming and overstimulating for our children too.
Hurry and distraction are the two threats in a crazy busy day. In our busyness, we can miss vital signs that our child is struggling, or those around us are reaching out. We may not even notice our stress signals and know all too well of a tension headache that hits around four p.m. and in some cases earlier.
What can happen is the spiral downwards as our child’s needs go unnoticed or noticed and unmet. We notice our child’s mood or negative behaviour and feel at our wits end of how much more can I cope with today?
So as I paint a pretty picture, I think most of us, at some point have been here at least once… and for some it feels like groundhog day.
So what can we do to prevent the spiral of disconnection, family stress and fatigue?
Here are 6 Calming and Connecting Practices that help you and the little people in your life stay mindful and make space for closeness no matter how crazy or how busy the day is.
The beauty of Morning Rituals – Creating a morning ritual will ensure that no matter what happens, you have created space for connection. A special hug or love phrase that you share with your child or family as a whole can be the glue that holds everything together. With my son, we have a ritual of Baci Baci where I kiss my son on both cheeks, and we say Baci Baci. With his Daddy, he says Naso Naso, which is a nose kiss. We still do this, 13 years later and it has become our little thing. This is a very special time for us to connect instantly no matter what. Or you could have a morning ‘All in the bed HUG’ or ‘Morning story book’ to start the day. This extra 5 – 15 minutes together can create the calm your whole family thrive on for the morning organisation to come. With your baby, you may like to baby wear or the first words your bubba hears in the morning are the same love whispers “Muma’s here for you, good morning”.
In praise of slow – Walk slower, speak slower and make an active choice not to move so fast. EVEN if you are in a rush you can still slow down. Have you ever noticed that when you rush from one traffic light to the other, you still end up with the same cars you started with? Actively slowing down your pace helps you to slow down your body, which in turn helps you to slow down your mind. It brings an element of calm not only to you but your whole environment. It models to your child a calm and steady nature. We all know too well the crash and burn effect of rushing! The rush rush, where in a hurry and you kick your toe, lock your keys in the car, put the milk in the cupboard and the ice in the oven. The more we rush-the less mindful we are of the moment’s in-between and the more forgetful we become and it adds to our parental stress and fears of not being good enough and capable enough.
Delegate to encourage self-care 0- Independence, and capability. Helping children feel like they contribute adds to the family love tank. Think of things that you could delegate and then teach the skill first. Sometimes we expect our kids to just do it without any awareness of how it is done. Short term this may feel frustrating and a little bit of a nightmare. Long term you are encouraging your child to think for themselves, contribute to family happiness, cooperate in a respectful and loving way and you get to do less and nurture yourself. You could ask your child to choose their clothes for the day, or if you choose them, you could ask them to dress themselves as best they can. Older kids could empty dishwasher, take washing off the line, make sandwiches for lunches, take the bins out, feed the animals. Toddlers can be given a a wet face washer to wash their face and then as they grow you could ask them to go and wash their face for themselves. They will know what they need and how to do it and become more and more confident in their own abilities to manage what they need to do.
Communicate Big Picture – Share how the morning is going to roll. “We are going to Aunty Linda’s this morning. It might sound like this. “When we finish breakfast and get ready then we will get in the car, drop off at the shop to get some fruit and drive to Aunties house.” OR “Today is Mummy’s work day. Once we have had breakfast, we are going to get ready, and I will drop Ethan off at kindy and Sarah off at Grandma’s house.” OR “I’ll make lunches if you guys can get what you need ready. Ethan, you help Sarah and Sarah if you want to come and spend some time with me in the kitchen that would be fun.”
Reconnection – If you have been away from your children for the day this is a beautiful time to reconnect. It could be late in the afternoon when children are hungry, tired and parents are too. When you get home to make a cup of tea, or icy drink for the family and sit and share the day. Or get outside in nature or fresh air, have a run around together, play in the sprinkler or the snow… where ever you let nature be your play time. It is reconnecting to spend this time together before the start of dinner, bath and the night time rituals.
You Matter! Notice your needs. Keep your food regular and sustaining. Drink lots of water and where possible take a few 5-minute calm time breaks. Even if you can go and sit on the toilet. Connect with your breath and your body with an intention for calm and peace. These 5-minute calm time breaks can restore your nervous system and give you that recharge and reset to keep going.
Enjoy these six calm and connecting parenting practices. They truly do help you to check in with your needs and how you can empower yourself and your family. I’d love to hear if you have any special and creative ways you stay connected in crazy busy, please share away.
Happy, whole-hearted parenting