Parenting, its ok not to be ok!
I was inspired to start this post a couple of weeks ago by a few things, International Mens day and also the current focus on mental health and looking after yourself. I had nipped out of work on my lunch to pick up some more Nurofen for the kids and got absolutely soaked but on the way back the sun had come out with a striking rainbow which completely changed my mood in an instant.
Being a parent is undoubtedly the hardest and most stressful job any of us will ever have, if there’s a job description I certainly don’t remember being given it in the delivery suite. What`s in a dad`s job description?
Having just had a few weeks of ongoing sickness with all 3 girls there were days I was dreaming of going to bed before I even got up. I remember years ago BK (Before Kids) being away with work and listening to a story by a colleague with young kids who told me that his family were in bed most nights by 9.30pm, 10.30pm at the weekends. I scoffed to myself, aye, bed at 9.30pm…lol…
Unsurprisingly that is now me, not quite as early yet but not far off. I recall when my kids started sleeping all night from 7pm ish, thinking I can’t wait to get to bed that early, honestly don’t think I’ve ever been that early, not once! Anyway getting back to the sickness and it got me thinking about how patents cope at those extreme times with little sleep, maybe feeling rough at the same time whilst still working and maintaining the daily routine of cleaning, washing and feeding.
So I am always looking for ideas as to what other people do to cope with parenting and to remain focused. I have started doing a number of things to help me, some new and some I have went back to.
Books, this is something I have went back to although it`s not proper reading as technically I cheat by listening to audiobooks on audible. The benefit however is 3 fold. Firstly I listen on the journey home from work every day helping me unwind from work mode, This has saved me from listening to the current trash music played on the radio. Secondly it helps motivate me to get out walking every other night, sometimes I get home from work and just need to know what happens next in the book. Thirdly I like to set a timer and listen for a while before bed instead of browsing social media or watching TV. I have found that this greatly helps my sleep pattern which I monitor via my smartwatch. In total I have listened to over 300 hours of books in the past year.
Walking, I’m not massively into fitness and probably haven`t been since Sarah was born but the crisp winter nights and a decent audio book help break up the evening routine of watching TV from when the kids go to bed until I go to bed. A brisk 30 minutes ish in the evening and I am ready to unwind for an hour at home and then bed. Again I have found that this really helps with the sleep pattern.
Beer, no I’m not encouraging irresponsible drinking but everything in good measure, particularly at the weekends. I’ve started trying different non-alcoholic beers if I feel like a beer during the week I will probably post my views on these soon. Whilst I acknowledge that they will never quite get the taste of beer to perfection I have bene pleasantly surprised by some. I think in a way it tricks my brain into relaxing in a way similar to sleeping at the bottom of your bed can help on a sleepless night as it resets your sleep pattern. I wonder does that actually work??
Sometimes though it’s simple what you need to do. I had Sarah at a class recently and one of the other parents confessed that their kids had been “doing their head in” that morning, it had been raining for a few days and she said that she had taken them for a walk, simply up the street and back again. I do this too, the ritual of getting coats on, deciding to go up the street or down the street and then seeing some birds or squirrels refreshes them, and me, to go back home and start again!
As Jerry Springer would say, “Look after yourself and each other”!