Balancing the busyness - parenting support from Parentline
As a Parentline counsellor and parent, I have had many parenting discussions with parents about busy schedules and never having time to ‘be still’. There is no doubt that raising children, running a household, and for many, working in paid employment, our daily routines can certainly be hectic and overwhelming. Finding time to just ‘be’ and do things for yourself seems impossible. I recently spoke to a parent who was struggling to cope with getting her two children to all their commitments. She was also struggling with managing their behaviour and reluctance to attend activities.
The parent shared that her daughter did ballet, swimming and netball, while her son participated in soccer, martial arts and swimming. This parent was distressed, dysregulated and ‘over it’ and admitted she felt like just ‘walking out’.
The parent was sick of spending most of her time in the car, driving her kids from one place to another. Dealing with arguments, having no afternoons free and little time left on
the weekends. So why is it that we feel that we have to cram our children’s lives with so many activities and extra-curricular commitments? Recently I listened to a radio interview and the guest speaker was reflecting on his childhood and adolescence. He stated, “I did all the things that my parents wanted me to do, but I didn’t particularly enjoy these activities. However, I wanted to keep my parents happy”.
There is no doubt such activities have a variety of benefits that include exercise, developing skills, social learning and forming values of commitment and responsibility. But at what cost to the family?
Is fast-paced living causing overwhelm?
Maggie Dent, the parenting author, educator and speaker, recently addressed this topic at the Child Care Alliance QLD conference by noting that ‘overscheduled childhoods’ and ‘fast-paced living’ are placing pressure on homes and can interrupt a child’s sense of ‘belonging’. This disruption can result in relational aggression and emotional meltdowns from the child.
So, what can we do to reduce this over-stimulation, emotional dysregulation and anxious behaviour that may occur when our lives are too busy? Maggie suggests parents ‘rest and digest’ and concentrate on ‘connection’. Connecting with our young people is key to healthy relationships and provides a strong sense of safety and security.
We could consider reducing our child’s commitments and the number of activities they take on each term. Spend time at home doing activities together. Play a board game, take a walk in the park or do some gardening. These activities all provide the opportunity to have a break and spend time with our children. Even getting our little ones to help with preparing the nightly meal provides a shared place of belonging. Treasure these simple moments. Be comforted by the fact that connection doesn’t mean you need to be constantly on the move.
Calming the life around you can build your parenting capacity which, in turn, will reassure your child that you are their safe person and they feel connected with the world around them.
Parenting support from Parentline
If you are a parent, carer or family member living in Queensland or the Northern Territory, and need any parenting support, you can call Parentline on 1300 30 1300 from 8am – 10pm seven days a week, for the cost of a local phone call, or webchat/email www.parentline.com.au.
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