Resilience is a hot topic, almost always in the context of our children. But what about parental resilience? It makes sense that resilient parents have a better chance of raising resilient kids.
Schools and parents are doing everything possible to increase the resilience of our children, so that the kids can cope with challenges, bounce back after adversity and appreciate the good times. It’s important stuff, but it’s not a one-off lesson – resilience is something our kids will learn over a long period of time and through a series of life events.
As parents, we’re still learning this skill too. A good store of parental resilience means we can bounce back from not just general life stuff, but from the many parenting challenges we’re faced with.
I think that parental resilience is just as important as building it in our kids. (And maybe more.) Here’s how we can build up your stores of resilience, and hopefully feel you can better cope with all the demands of parenting.
5 steps to parental resilience
1. Build up a support team
There’s no doubt that we feel more resilient when we’re supported by others. We need connection in our lives, and people we can talk honestly with. We need to surround ourselves with people who get it.
Keep sharing: 10 reasons why mums stop talking about parenting
Your support team might include your partner and your family, and it definitely needs to include some girlfriends that you can chat to. We need our tribe – the people we can send a quick message to and know we’ll get a note of solidarity back, the ones we can call on to go out with and stay up too late talking about what’s bothering us (and solve every other world problem besides).
2. Take a break
The further we push to keep going, the more our coping mechanisms are drawn on and stretched. How often have you thought you’re going along okay, only to be thrown off your perch by that one extra little thing? (Me? All the time!)
What we really need is to try and keep a little emotional energy in reserve, so that those extra things push us closer to the edge (and then ease off), rather than toppling over the edge.
And although I wish there was a magic answer to creating that, for me the answer really is rest. A mum break – to go out for a walk by myself, to nap, or have a night off parenting – is the best way to create that extra space, so I can come back ready to face whatever’s next.
3. Get rid of the perfection
I am so guilty of expecting perfection from myself in many areas of my life, not least of which is my parenting. I’ve spent many hours in the past beating myself up about not dealing with a situation as well as I’d have liked.
But I try to treat myself better these days: talking to myself with kindness, even (and especially) when I’ve not met my own standards. And when I’m kinder to myself, it’s far easier to feel able to move on to the next joys and challenges of parenting.
Read more from Megan on this: 5 ways to be kinder to yourself
4. Give yourself an outlet
Sometimes parenting sucks and everything sucks and why can’t you just run away to a deserted island? Yep, sometimes you need to chuck a tantrum.
And that’s okay!
I reckon that the danger with the parental resilience conversation is that we start thinking we have to be able to cope brilliantly all the time, and move on from any challenge really quickly. But one of the keys to resilience is in how we deal with those challenges – not to try and erase them.
So I say chuck that tantrum – whether it’s a rant at home, or a more mature version by going for a run or turning up your favourite ‘poor me’ song in the car and singing along loudly – to let out the emotions.
5. Connect with your kids
I know that we’re always hearing and saying that we can only recharge if we have time away from our kids – but I don’t think that’s strictly true. While a break is important now and then, I think connection is also vital.
Time having fun together, doing whatever it is that helps you leave behind the need to be ‘parenty’, can not only build a bond but give you the chance to feel good about your parenting. For me, it’s a reminder that the kids I’m raising are great humans and that what my husband and I are doing is working, which gives me the encouragement to continue with a positive mindset.
How do you increase your parental resilience?