Are you okay?
Seriously, are you reaaalllyyy okay? Most of us are inclined to quickly reply, “yes, I’m fine!” However, if we step back and take a moment to really be honest with ourselves. We are, in fact, not okay.
Haven’t moments of not being okay, is okay. Taking the time to realize that we need a moment to even process that we are not okay, is okay. We live up to an unrealistic standard of being these supposed “super parents” that, if not occasionally checked, leads down a narrow and dangerous path of us parents lying to ourselves that we are okay and we are not.
Was it our own caregivers, who likely had their own periods of parental turbulence, that made parenting life look so easy that we mistakenly believed that they were always okay?
Is it the constant disjointed messaging of parental perfection that dominates or social feeds? You know, the picture-perfect smiling family of eight, donning coordinated outfits head to toe, matching perfectly groomed Goldendoodle in tow sitting in their spotless and flawlessly decorated living room. Meanwhile, we average parents consider it a good day if we’re able to take two swigs of the morning coffee while it’s still lukewarm and a great day if we make it to the afternoon having not stepped on a pile of legos on our way, late of course, to the 75th video conference call of the day.
I know I’m not alone. Are you with me?
Let’s exhale together. Now, let’s dissect this, one step at a time.
Choose your battles.
Protect your peace.
Create a sanctuary.
The first step to solving a problem is to admit the problem actually exists. You’re going to have to sit yourself down to have an honest talk with yourself in the mirror. You are mentally struggling. And, in order to feel better, to be better, it’s necessary for you to make intentional changes.
Recognize that feeling overwhelmed and imperfect is normal. The way that you are feeling is acceptable. Moreover, you will not get to a better place unless you afford yourself permission to not be okay.
So, now I’m going to be completely honest with you. I’m raising my own teenagers and I’ve had a close hand in raising, guiding, molding and mentoring hundreds of children into well-adjusted adults. As a psychotherapist for over two decades, I’ve leveraged my expertise in parenting and education to lead families to parent consciously. The common theme from parents coming from all walks of life is that at times, parenting can feel like an uphill battle. Life without children has it’s curveballs. On some days, leading a family can feel like the front side of a dartboard after target practice.
When life “piles it on”, parents must toss back the unnecessary pieces in order to focus on what is truly important. If there are 10 things in the pile, start with two or three issues that are the most pressing, and peel back those layers first. Less important matters have a way of working themselves out.
Many first-time parents attempt to make gourmet cuisine for their new family. Meanwhile, veteran parents are excited to merely get nutritious food groups to the dinner table in one meal. Over time, we learn that the 1-hour prep, 1.5 hours of cooking and the extra hour for clean-up per meal looks great but, ultimately, is not worth our sanity. Veteran parents have learned to meal prep for 2 hours over the weekend for the upcoming week; thereby: saving precious time and money. The extra time and money gained by choosing the right battle will enable the veteran parent to spend quality time attacking another issue from the “pile”.
** Here’s a little added secret, with the right seasonings and plating, your family will be blown away by the most simple of dishes.
Simply put, we tend to take on too much. We do things for the sake of just doing them because we believe it should be done. Some of the things we take on are impeding our peace. We also entertain people in our lives that deplete us more than they pour into us because, again, we believe we should. We allow those things and people to take hold of our peace and that adds an unnecessary level of stress that we don’t need. It also is a huge contributor to feeling like we are not okay. It is all avoidable. Learn to say no to things that disturb your peace and yes to things that bring you joy.
This one is so hard while living in the world of social media. Try not to get caught up in the webbed world of so-called perfection. In general, people tend to show us their best. We tend to hyper-focus on how much of a mess our lives are, which is a stark contrast to the constant images in front of us. The easiest way to not get caught up is to log off and tune out. It may be easier said than done at first, but we manifest that which we focus our time and attention. So, focus your attention on how you can grow instead of focusing on how others are succeeding.
This goes along with the idea of not comparing. Thoughts manifest things. Being intentional about what one does, why it’s done and how it’s done redirects thought and action in the same direction. These intentional acts move us from a place of being down and sad to mobilizing ourselves to feel better. It’s a step in the right direction to really being okay instead of just pretending that we are okay.
We’ve learned to protect our peace by intentionally choosing our battles and not comparing. The next step would be to create a physical place to maintain the peace we create. I’m not talking about major home renovations here, I’m talking about a small corner in the walk-in-closet or the bedroom. It could be sitting on a pouf with a good book or a new journal under dim lights and a brand new candle nearby or it could be sitting at a fold-up table in a well-lit room to work on a craft, hobby or writing project. Either way, create a “me” place that allows you to tap into your senses that you overlook through the constant times of chaos as you go about your days as a busy parent. A candle or freshly cleaned room with your favorite cleanser will tap into your sense of smell. Consider your preferred lighting for your sense of sight. Do you like soft lighting or do you prefer bright white? Set the mood for your sense of hearing by tuning into your favorite background sounds. Do you even know what you like? Is it an upbeat song like Drake’s “Started from the bottom” or is it slower like Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley’s, “Turn Your Lights Down Low” ???? See where I’m going? Create your own sanctuary.
None of the so-called perfect people you’ve been following on social media does it on their own. They have help and so should you. If you’re stuck in a bad space, mentally, and can’t get out, seek the professional help of a therapist. If you are completely overwhelmed by work and chores at home, talk to the people who make up your support system. Tell them what you need. I’m sure they will be more than willing to lend a hand. If you need consistent help and can afford the service, hire help. You’d be surprised how much easier life is with the assistance of a team dedicated to helping you do your parenting “chores” so that you can focus time on your family and yourself.
As parents, our lives are oftentimes so chaotic that we believe that it’s normal not to take time out to focus on our mental wellness. That’s just part of parenting life, right? Wrong. It doesn’t have to be and it shouldn’t be. I’ve provided you with a blueprint to get started. Being honest with yourself and others, choosing to address the real problems that need your immediate attention, protecting your peace, not comparing, being intentional about thoughts and actions, creating a sanctuary and soliciting help with overwhelming tasks will guide you to getting back to an okay place.
We want you to be okay. If you find yourself overwhelmed by your parenting life. Contact Kid Care Concierge for a free, no obligation consultation to talk about how you can begin putting the pieces back together on the road to happiness.