Autumn is starting to set in, and with it, thoughts can turn to brisk walks through the forest with crisp leaves underfoot, long cosy evenings by the fire and warm, hearty stews. But, autumn can also be a time of stress for busy parents: organising lunches and uniforms, traffic!, “voluntary” contributions, homework, after school activities, friends, dinners, bedtimes…and, on top of it all, Christmas is just around the corner…
Parents can become overwhelmed by all the demands—we want to do the best for our children and this can mean that we get up early to make the healthy lunches, that we run around trying to tidy up after the tsunami of getting up and out in the morning, that we rush around getting everyone to appointments, making sure everyone is fed, dressed and reasonably clean, that we stay up late to try to restore order or even to find a few quiet minutes to ourselves. It means that meeting our own needs can fall to the bottom of the list…and then fall off the list altogether.
But, wait a second…There is vast evidence that says that the mental health of parents (especially mothers) has the greatest impact on outcomes for children; if, as parents, we look after our own mental health and well-being, we actually make things a lot better for our children.
So, back to the cosy fire and the hearty stews. All parents need to find something that nourishes and restores them, first as people in their own right and, second as parents. Whether it is a walk or a jog, a cup of tea and a book, a night out with good friends; whatever is your cosy fire and hearty stew, find some time for it. Know that you deserve it and it will make you a calmer, happier, more resourceful person who can better meet the needs of your children.
If you are finding yourself more overwhelmed than usual and think you might need some extra support, make sure you reach out. Talk to your GP or your Public Health Nurse, take a look at www.yourmentalhealth.ie for information on supports or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to put you in touch with a service that can help you.
As featured in The Chronicle 13th September 2016