In my work I have met many parents and I know that without self care, a parent can easily become tired and irritable and depleted. When stressful situations and difficult behaviors of a child are added to the mix, then your child can start believing that they are to blame for all the suffering. Self-care for a parent is not a luxury it is a necessity. It is a positive, healthy survival skill to pass on to your child. Self care is about knowing yourself and knowing your limits for your own sake and that of your children.
So, the holidays are winding down and the children are back in school. Maybe it is time to clean out the old and prepare for new beginnings! But wait! Before I do any of this I need to give myself a pause and rest even if it is for five minutes. Even if it is just for the time it takes to read the words on this page! I need time and space for me to do absolutely nothing, but breath and feel myself fully! To be a human being with needs, as well as a parent!
When my daughter was young, we both enjoyed reading a book called “five minutes peace” which was about a mother elephant who needed just five minutes to herself to pause and recharge her battery. Of course it never happened as the baby elephant did not understand why her mother would need time alone! Sounds familiar? So making intentional time alone to be creative or just be each day is a number one goal for me in 2012. It does not have to be a lot of time, but it does need to be consistent. I am hoping that in achieving this spacious gift of self compassion each day I will also be giving to my daughter.
By watching and experiencing me give quiet time to myself, it will encourage my daughter to learn to be comfortable being by herself. She can begin to understand her own physiological and psychological need for quiet reflection, as well as outside stimulation. This is the work of a any parent, to help our children know how to be secure with their internal thoughts and feelings and creative energy and be able to respond positively to the barrage of external stimulation in the world.
My hope is that I can teach my daughter to move more fluidly between times of quiet and stillness and times of activity and movement, and most importantly, recognize the value of both. The hope is that the quiet moments alone come to feel as safe to her as those moments being rocked in my arms when she was a baby. The hope is that when she reaches that age when she can be left alone at home that she can feel confident and I can trust her to be alone. The hope is that she can delve into her own creative resources and not experience boredom with her own company! The hope is that my limit setting, although annoying at times, is internalized to make her feel safe. So, that she will know when it is safe to take risks and safe to walk away.