So we’ve reached the end of half term and the children are back to school tomorrow. At the beginning of the week I vowed to focus on connection with the children and to let go of the quest for perfection, which, to be honest is just as well!
Ten years ago I was heavily pregnant with my eldest, deeply indoctrinated in the need for exclusive breast feeding, home made baby purees, baby signing and cloth nappies. And I duly set out to do my best, not forgetting the opinions of Gina Ford, subjecting him to baby Einstein etc.
This pressure for perfection starts early and as a first time but I fell for it: hook, line and sinker. Thankfully my youngest is now 3. I have three children, a job and a new business. The quest for perfection has long since left the building and let’s be honest, we’re all the happier for it.
But this pressure on parents to get it right is real and it affects us and our children. We are seeing an increasing crisis in our young children’s mental health and the reasons for this are complex but we know this has come alongside increasing pressure on our children to achieve the highest grades, make the ‘right’ career decisions very early, as the prospect of graduate debt looms over them, accompanied by the pressure to create and maintain a perfection on social media, in many cases 24/7.
As parents we contribute this by the desire to give our children the best by over scheduling them with sports clubs, music lessons and after school tuition, which although well intentioned, can lead to frazzled children who lack resilience because they don’t have the time they need to relax, get bored, figure things out for themselves and to play outside without adult supervision.
So what can we do?
I, as much as anyone, am a work in progress. Quite possibly the best thing I can do for my children is to chill the hell out and let them be.
In addition to that I’m trying to work on connection with the kids by talking to them and trying to actually listen. The wheel below is good for this:
How many have you done in the last 24 hours? Each time your answer is ‘yes’ you have helped boost their confidence and made them feel secure.
Getting the children involved in making vision boards and using a gratitude jar has been great too.
And finally, helping them to identify their strengths and offering feedback when I catch them being good.
We’re far from perfect here- the boys are fighting over the remote and my daughter is pulling every trick she can think of to get another biscuit but I can say that after a week at home together without too many plans life is a little bit calmer and happier.
I love to hear what you think- what works well in your family?