Finding a good balance in our lives is not easy. And when there are children in the equation it’s even harder, maybe because few of us had parents who modelled a good balance which covered everyone’s needs in the family. I am finally pretty happy about the balance of things while the kids are at school, but I am still working it out during holidays. Rhythms go out the window then, and my self-nurturing practices tend to fall to the bottom of the list. Yet, I have come to realise that enough sleep, meditating, tai-chi, physical exercise, time out in nature, regular Emptying of my Bucket and putting energy into my passion are not just good ideas, but essential practices for me to be the best version of myself and the mother I want to be for my children.
Since that realisation finally landed in me, I have been working out how much I need to invest in every one of those practices, how often, why, and how to make it happen in my life. It has been a long process (and it is ongoing, because my needs and those of my family keep on changing!) But I am deeply committed: the pain of not being centered with my children, of turning into a monster mum, brings up too much grief for me, and that pushes me to find a way.
Actually, well before reaching the point of loosing my temper, I feel the need to well resourced: when my daughter needs me to do the Aware Parenting Dance before bed time, I require a whole battery of centeredness, understanding, self-nourishment and compassion before I can follow her into it. When my son has had a bad day with his friends and is all aggressive at home, I need ALL of my Mummy-zen available to be able to deal with it lovingly. When both my children are restless I am trying to get them to do a task, I need all my wits about me to turn my request into an Attachment Play game and make it fun.
We are trying to parent in a whole different way. Parenting in itself is a very challenging job, because children push all those unhealed buttons from our own childhood. But Inspired Parenting is even harder, because when those buttons are pushed we don’t put a lid on the pain with Control Patterns, but seek to heal it. It’s like having our “outer” children plus one more: our inner child. And that one is the most difficult one to parent because her feelings are often completely overwhelming. In order to look after our inner child plus our outer ones, we need to be very well resourced. We need our cups not just full, but overflowing, because what is required of us in order to parent that way is massive.
There are three reasons why it is a massive job. One, because healing our childhood wounds is intense of itself, and doing it on our day to day while looking after the household needs plus our outer kids is even harder. If you have gone to a good psychologist, healer or life coach, or if you have had the good fortune of being heard deeply without being judged, you will understand what I mean: coming out of an intense emotional process we feel very tired, often shaken or vulnerable, plus a bit confused or lost. At times like this we need to rest, replenish and create some space for the process to settle and its implications to land. It is intense work.
The second reason why this is a massive job is because we are aspiring to be the psychologist, healer, life coach or loving friend that our inner and outer children need… often without any training! Some lucky ones had parents close to enlightenment and can just put the automatic pilot and replicate what they received as children. That is the best training, but the majority of us are not in that cathegory. Even for the ones who have had formal training it is a challenge, because it is not the same to support a process outside of us, from which we are somewhat removed, than to support the healing of our inner child, which is a lot closer to home (or rather, right inside the house!) We are being both the healer and the patient. It is complex work.
The third reason why this is a massive job is because, as Inspired Parents, we are trying to give support to our outer and inner children at the same time. Group therapy session! In all my life of personal growth and happiness-tools research, I have only once come across a therapist who did actual group therapy. He is a Barbara Brennan healer and I once took a workshop in which I remember at one point at least four people in the room where processing all at once. That has nothing to do with twenty people in a circle speaking one at a time while the rest listen, or a room with two facilitators and a host of supporters holding every participant that is being triggered into a process. This is a single person holding a group of eight people where four or five of them are going through serious emotional upheaval and supporting them all simultaneously and effectively! I was in awe. And I often remember him when both my children are upset at the same time, specially when my inner girl gets upset with them, too.
So this is my reminder from our autumn holidays: look after yourself, because the way you are choosing to parent requires you to be at your best to be able to deliver. Inspired Parenting is possibly the hardest job on Earth. Don’t make it any harder. Resource yourself, please; your whole family will appreciate it. If you feel lost at how to do it, you can start by reading my upcoming Parenting Diary entry on my website, which I will post within two weeks and will be called “Balancing”. In it I will give you some of the tricks that I use to help me in that task. If after that you still don’t know very well where to start improving the balance of needs in your life, tap the shoulder of a good-listening down-to-earth-practical friend. If you don’t have one of those, I believe paying for help is a worthwhile investment. Life coaches are generally good at this stuff, but any good professional of the sort will do. If you don’t know anyone that feels right for the job, contact me. I would love to help you!
Support yourself by asking for support. I reckon it is impossible to do our job properly without it.