Many parents have really bad days and weeks with children and at times we can question ourselves. We can wonder if we are the right person to parent this child. Would someone else do a better job? Would our child be better off with someone else? Sometimes parents even think about putting children into care as they are feeling so much despair. Everyone has bad days with children, days when we don’t handle situations and behaviours in ways we wish we had. Days when we want to scream and run out the door, days when we do scream and days we wish our children would run out the door!
It is normal to a certain extent to feel this way. Parenting can be very overwhelming and we are often doing it with limited sleep which reduces our coping skills. Parenting is the hardest job in the world at times, and the most unrecognised and unsupported. When doing it on your own it can be even more difficult as you don’t have someone who can take over when you feel you need a break. Even parents in a relationship can feel like they are doing it alone.
It is when these feelings start to set in that it is really important as a parent to reflect on your own self care. Usually when we feel this way there are many other things going on. We are stressed by relationships within our family and our ex partners or we are stressed about money or housing problems. Our heads are full of so many issues that all seem to be going wrong and falling apart. Then when the children start to act up, it is like that’s the final straw. Usually the children are more challenging because they know and feel that you are not present for them. They have needs which are not being met and they don’t know how to tell you about how they feel. All they know is how to act it out.
Can you put certain measures in place to help you recognise when you are starting to neglect your own care, such as:
- Learn to recognise your levels of stress. Take time each day to reflect on how you are feeling.
- Try to identify things that went well each day, no matter how small they are.
- Try not to give all your energy to what is going wrong. Explore who can help you, what steps can you take.
- Make a list of the issues you need to resolve. Try to be less critical of yourself. Name the things you are good at, focus on these.
- Create time to think and plan – can children go on play dates to allow this happen for you?
- Talk with your children about what is going on and help them to form a plan with you. Hear what it is like for them.
- Don’t give up. Your children need you and no one can replace you. You need to believe that you are the right person to parent your children.
- Join a parenting group to get support from other parents and learn new skills and knowledge which will help you understand your children.
- Identify your needs. Where are the gaps? You will need to be creative in finding ways to meet these needs. By parenting yourself you will be able to parent your children.
- Seek professional support if you feel really low. Call the askonefamily helpline to talk with someone. Talking can usually help you understand what is going wrong and what changes you can make. Seek support from your GP or contact your local social worker if you feel you need support around mental health, addiction or abuse.
Remember, there are people out there who can and want to support you to parent. Ask for the support if you can. It does not make you a poor parent if you need to get support from others. Nobody can parent on their own, being brave enough to ask for help and support is what makes you a great parent as you recognise that you and your children need help.
Free, confidential information and support is available from the askonefamily helpline on 1890 662212.
This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.
Coming up next week: 10 Ways to Address The Awkward Questions.
Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email email@example.com.