Being a parent has always been the most wonderful but also the most challenging part of my life. Pre-children we often have romanticized ideals about the joys of being a parent. I remember the day my son was born was one of the happiest days of my life. No one can describe to you the love that you have for your child. It is like no other love that you have for anyone else in your life. It is like when your child is born that you have a direct attachment joined to your own heart. However; no one also tells you about the incredible challenges which being a parent brings to your life; and the ensuing emotional rollercoaster of trials and tribulations. Our children bring us the greatest joy we will ever experience but they can also cause us much anxiety and at time heart ache. One of the hardest parts of being a parent means that to a degree you lose a certain amount of control over your life.
Life as a parent is difficult at the best times but doubly so throughout lockdown. With lockdown and implementation of learning from home the role of the parent has been further complicated. We are all well used to being cook, cleaner, shopper, taxi driver, counsellor and social concierge for our children but we now also have to assume the role of teacher. Although it is lovely to have all the family together throughout lockdown this can be draining when we don’t get a break from one another. Even in the most loving of families being apart from each other is important and healthy for all us.
There is no doubt that life in lockdown is really tough for parents and I think the younger your children the harder you have it. I’ve always been a believer in the adage “small kids small problems big kids big problems” but I think that lockdown and learning from home has certainly reversed this.
I am absolutely in awe of parents at the moment. I think that you are all doing an absolutely amazing job managing all that you are. I know that many of you are juggling many balls in the air and just praying that you don’t drop any of these balls. If a ball drops (and inevitably it will) it is not the end of the world. Our kids need to know and hear that we are human.
As parents we innately put the needs of our kids before our own. This is something which we just all do. However; in these current times with no end to lockdown in sight it is vitally important that you ensure that you look after yourselves. I’m sure that we are all aware of the safety procedures when you fly where you are told to put your own mask on before securing the masks of your children. I think this analogy is so vitally important whilst we are in lockdown. Our temptation as parents is to put the needs of our kids before our own but it is OK to sometimes put our own needs before those of our children because if we don’t look after ourselves and be in a positive mental and healthy physical state then ultimately our families will suffer. I know that many parents feel guilty when they do something for themselves but our kids will all cope when we say no to their needs and demands. In fact it is incredibly healthy for our children to sometimes see that they are not the centre of our universe all the time and that we can have interests of our own.
I encourage you all to do something for yourself, without your children when you can and don’t feel guilty when you do this. Find a way to do something that you have been wanting to do for a long time but haven’t gotten around to. Find a way to spoil yourself as we all need to do this occasionally.
Please remember that as parents some days will be far better than others, some will be easier and some will be more challenging. I’m sure that most of the time you are enjoying the extra time with your children but there will be other times where you just wish that you could get a break from them. This is a very normal way to feel!
Take care, look after yourselves and sometime over the next few days do something for yourself and put yourself first!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Hemphill is the Head of High School at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW.