Looking After Your Well-being: A Parent’s Perspective

Looking After Your Well-being: A Parent’s Perspective

This blog is written from the perspective of Danielle Butler, Operations Director of Tommies Childcare and mother to two children.

Parenting isn’t easy. Whilst an amazing and rewarding experience in many ways, it can be equally overwhelming and exhausting.

From personal experience, I know that the most significant adjustment when having my first child was the sheer lack of time there seemed to be for anything other than looking after my newborn baby. That sounds like something that should be expected, but the reality of having zero time for yourself can profoundly impact new parents.

I am by no means an expert. However, with my years of experience working in childcare and my experience as a parent, I hope that some of my advice on looking after your well-being can help others feel supported. That’s why I have written this piece; to show you that you are not alone, many parents feel the same way, and that you can cope.

Coping with “Mum/Dad Guilt”

We have all heard of this phrase. However, it wasn’t until I became a parent that I realised this was actually a real thing.

Mum/Dad guilt is a gut-wrenching feeling whereby you feel the need to apologise to yourself and others for spending any time away from your child. New parents are particularly susceptible to this feeling.

Questions from other people, who I’m sure are well-intentioned, such as, “Who is looking after them today?” or “You must miss them”, can intensify that feeling of guilt.

However, there are ways to free yourself from the feeling. One thing that has helped me is to realise that my children enjoy their time away from me. A day of having new experiences with their grandparents and other relatives or at nursery always means they have lots of exciting things to tell me about, which is incredibly reassuring.

Never Shy from Asking for Help

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

We have all heard this quote, and I genuinely believe it holds true. If you have family and friends willing to support you, ask for and accept their help.

For many parents who take pride in their independence, I understand that it can be difficult to admit that you might need extra help. But not doing so can only add to the stress of parenting. It’s vital for your own well-being that you accept help from others now and then.

Having just a couple of hours to yourself can be all that’s needed to reset the clock.

Stop Comparing

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

Yes, another quote, but it’s another good one.

When surrounded by other parents, both in your own life and on social media, it isn’t easy to not compare your parenting to others. But comparing how you’re doing as a parent or how your child is developing against others will not help you or your well-being.

You need to feel comfortable and confident in the decisions you make as a parent. You are best placed to make the decisions for your child and your family. Remember, what is right for one family isn’t necessarily suitable for others. It depends on various circumstances, such as working patterns, family network, the number of children in your home and many other things.

Embrace the Power of Fresh Air

An incredibly simple and free way to boost your well-being is walking. You will be surprised at the difference walking can make for you and your children.

With both of my children, fresh air has always been an essential part of our day, even if it is only for ten minutes. So, come rain or shine; we are out there exploring.

Babies enjoy being out in a pushchair where they can look around. For older children, bikes and scooters are a real treat.

Accepting Less Than Perfection

Sometimes we have to accept that things go wrong and our days are not always filled with fantastic and stimulating experiences for our children. For instance, home-cooked meals don’t always go to plan, or maybe there hasn’t been time to cook. Maybe your little ones just aren’t feeling their usual selves today. Whatever it may be, just remember: it’s OK.

Naturally, some days are harder than others. However, accepting that things can’t be perfect all of the time helps you to realise that something going wrong is also part of the journey, which helps to take the pressure off.

Time flies when you’re parenting; before you know it, our children won’t need us quite as much as they used to. So, embrace parenting for all the good times and the difficult ones.

If you found this helpful but would like to delve deeper, then take a look at some of our recommended books on parenting well-being!

1) The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids, Jessica Joelle Alexander (Amazon.co.uk)

2) What Every Parent Needs to Know: The incredible effects of love, nurture and play on your child’s development, Margot Sunderland (Amazon.co.uk)

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