"Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about and the hardest thing to do"
Hey you, feeling bombarded from all sides about your parenting skills? The life of a parent isn't always pretty, in fact it can be downright awful at times. Some days you feel like you've fallen down a massive hole and are struggling just to make it to the top. Believe me, you're not alone and it's ok to feel that way sometimes. To add to our daily struggles as parents we then have to cope with the "well meaning" family and friends who share their opinions and experiences of parenting. Everyone has an opinion! These days it is even worse for new parents as a deluge of parenting advice is now delivered to us via the internet. Yikes, our parenting skills are not just questioned by others but we're constantly critiquing ourselves! You feel yourself slipping a bit lower into that hole.
How do we avoid all this scrutiny and advice? Firstly, when you're having one of those bad days, don't venture anywhere near an electronic device!! It will only confirm your worst thoughts and that isn't helpful. If you can, grab a cup of tea and sit down, even if it's just for 5 minutes. It's ok if the thoughts of 'what a bad parent you think you are' creep in, just see them for what they are - just thoughts. Thoughts don't define who you are. Accept that they will often creep in and out, recognise them but don't become attached. Focus on the moment you're in. You can do it! Just sit there and maybe listen to the wind blowing outside. Feel the warmth of the cup, your arms resting on the table. Here come those crummy thoughts about your parenting skills again!!! Accept their intrusion and move them along. Now that you're back focussing on you, think about your values. What this means is reflecting about what is important and meaningful to you. Is it your family (even if they're driving you crazy!), is it the need for some time to yourself, is it someone to talk to? It can be one value or more - it's entirely up to you. Next, think about actions you can take to commit to the values that are most important to you. Find something that you and your family all love to do together - the park, a picnic, a sit down family meal, ice cream, backyard cricket, watching a favourite movie together. Invite a friend over (one who doesn't have an opinion about your parenting!) for a cold or hot beverage. Some of us just value having a friend who will listen and not judge.
The difficult moments will always be there in our lives, the key is to acknowledge and accept those moments then focus on what you value most. It takes practice. Just remember, you can be an awesome parent and also forget to pick your kids up from school!!