Information overload… how to be a better parent, why we should vaccinate (or not), whether we should use a private or public school (or home-school), to smack or not to smack, is co-sleeping the best, what our kids should be eating, how much screen time they have……
The level of information coming at parents from social media and from other (usually well meaning) family and friends can be simply overwhelming. Perhaps never before have parents had to deal with so much advice on how they should care for their kids so that they grow up as balanced and responsible adults.
If you’re a parent and you’re still responsible for your kid(s)’ health and well-being, you’re probably simply exhausted by the day-to-day job of keeping the family alive and basically well. If your kids are little, you’re likely to be suffering from sleep deprivation. Throw in financial concerns and possibly work responsibilities outside the home, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for feeling burnt out.
While the amount of information in the media gives great opportunity for learning, and can be helpful with good advice for parenting, it can leave you wondering if you’ll ever get it right….
As a Toowoomba Naturopath, I see many mums and dads as my clients, with all the above issues impacting them so much they’re full of self-doubt and in some cases, even feeling depressed. Naturopathy can help; with the exhaustion, by making sure the diet is providing stable energy & good nutrients, by supplementing where necessary with adrenal supporting herbs and vitamins/minerals to help with mood & sleep. I practice using these principles daily, (and even take my own advice, being a parent of multiple young children and in the same boat).
But there’s something missing here, and that’s simple reassurance. Reassurance that it’s going to be ok, that most of us are doing the best job we know how, with on-the-job training happening in the middle of the whirlwind of raising kids. That, usually, we’re the best person to be a parent to our kids. Here’s a few tips I remind my clients (and myself) to help us along the journey….
Kids are pretty robust.
They usually heal quickly, learn quickly, need to make mistakes as they discover life, and often bounce back emotionally very rapidly from upsetting situations. In the process of learning, they will suffer scrapes, knocks, falls, splinters and cuts, and as long as these aren’t life threatening, that’s all part of the process.
We haven’t done this before.
Parenting is a flat-out exercise in learning, in the context of the immediate & constant needs of babies who rapidly become toddlers, children, adolescents and adults. Everyone makes mistakes as parents - we’re learners for goodness’ sake! Put into the context of exhaustion, as previously mentioned, and it can be a really tough gig. The self-recrimination when we get it wrong is usually not relevant, perhaps we can relax a little, learn from our mistakes and just move on… After all, most of us are just doing the best we can, with the knowledge & experience we have.
Self-time isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.
Run any machine too hard for too long & it’ll burn out or fail. While we’re so much better than machines, we’re still designed to slow down, recharge the batteries, put more fuel in the tank and have a little R&R. If we don’t, eventually we’ll probably simply feel unable to do it anymore, and then, what good will we be for our kids?
Having time out, away from the noise, activity & constant demands helps us recover our balance, rest our minds and bodies and get back the mojo to do it all over again. It’s so easy to get lost in the role of parenting, and time out helps us reconnect with ourselves (and maybe our partners) and with the important foundations that have made us who we are. There are adrenally supportive supplements that us Naturopaths prescribe (and even use), but we’ll usually look at the time out factor to ensure that our clients can keep on keeping on over the long term.
Sleep’s the least expensive recovery tool, and just may make you feel sane.
If you really want to check out how important sleep is to general health, check out my blog “sleeping beauty” here. An almost double the rate of death from all causes in sleep deprived people is a simple indicator that sleep’s pretty important. I like to recommend that my clients remove all electronic equipment from the bedroom (no mobile phones charging on bedside cabinets please), keep the room as dark as possible, and simple get to bed a little earlier to promote maximum melatonin production (the hormone that ensures deeper & more restful sleep). Us practitioners have all sorts of goodies to prescribe when necessary for better sleep.
We know our kids better than anyone else.
It’s so easy to go down the guilt trip pathway. All you have to do is see just another post on how you’re doing parenting wrongly, or read an opposing viewpoint to what you’ve decided for your kids and family. And there’s so much negative and even vicious attitude out there (just check the readers’ comments on any vaccination article)! As parents we spend most time with our kids, and with the same genetic make-up, can feel a resonance with them that others just don’t get. In most cases, we’re the best parents for our kids, and can perhaps trust our gut instincts a little more instead of listening to so much overwhelming advice, often from complete strangers via social media. Go figure.
Please don’t think that my tips for reassurance encourage complacence; we obviously need to keep kids' safety, learning, development and maturation in mind at all times. My main focus here is that we, as parents, could possibly do with a little less constant advice and a little more acknowledgement that we’re probably doing a pretty fine job after all.
Oh, and just another note… To all those single parents out there, you have my respect. Some of the tips above must be even harder for you to achieve (eg; self-time & sleep) and, quite frankly, I don’t know how you do it. If I wore a hat, I’d doff it to you.
We Naturopaths can offer help, for sleep, lifestyle choices, dietary energy & balance and with supplements to support mood, energy, relaxation as needed. To make your job easier, we can also usually help with kids' behaviour, concentration, digestion, immunity and general health. So whether you’re a single parent (kudos) or not (kudos), if you need extra assistance, don’t hesitate to seek out a practitioner who can help support you on this wild and wonderful journey of being a parent.