Any parent will tell you that having kids is the most wonderful and transformative thing that ever happened to them… And they’ll also tell you that it’s the reason why they’re perpetually knackered, stressed, cranky and on the verge of tears. It’s a paradox that those who don’t have kids yet will never understand but parents know only too well. It’s fair to say that whatever age your kids may be, finding balance is all-important. Parenting can be stressful and frustrating and when combined with the pressures of work, money and career it can make for an exhausting cocktail for which there never seems to be enough hours in the day or enough fuel in the tank.
But the daily grind of parenting (as stressful and exhausting as it can sometimes be) shouldn't distract you from the quotidian beauty that’s to be found in the journey of parenting every day.
Go easy on yourself!
Let’s face it, there’s enough pressure on parents in this day and age. It seems as though society’s expectations of parents become more unrealistic every day, and even the perfect parent can find themselves the subject of disapproving eye-rolls when our kids decide they’re going to have an impromptu temper tantrum in Tesco.
We feel pressure from society in everything from breastfeeding to behavior management. When our kids are born, we all feel that we need to measure ourselves by an unattainably perfect standard of parenting… And that does neither our kids nor ourselves any favours. It’s okay to make mistakes. They help us learn. Even if we lose our tempers we need to learn to forgive ourselves. If we keep on holding ourselves to an impossibly high standard we could also end up doing the same for our kids. And that could cause them real damage.
Slow life down a little
The life of a parent seems to move at break-neck speed. In fact, it can often feel as though day-to-day life is like being behind the wheel of an out of control car. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that digital technology is a virtually ubiquitous presence in our lives. It seems as though every waking moment there’s some device or screen or other demanding our constant attention on those rare moments when our kids aren’t.
Sometimes it’s necessary to pump the brakes a little and slow life down. Mindfulness meditation is a great way to do this. It involves ridding yourself of all distractions for a little while and focusing on nothing but breathing. It helps you to gain perspective on the world, on life, and on parenting while helping to slow down the pace of life just a little. It’s the perfect antidote to anxiety and stress!
The great thing about mindfulness meditation is that it only takes a few minutes. It can be done on your lunch break, in the car or in the bath. It can fit around your busy schedule with aplomb!
Remember, whatever your money worries are, they’re not insurmountable!
Raising a kid in the 21st century is an expensive prospect. In fact, raising a child to the age of 21 can cost the better part of a quarter of a million quid depending on where you’re living. So, don’t beat yourself up if you’re experiencing money troubles. Just remember that whatever they may be, they are certainly not insurmountable.
It’s just a case of developing better habits.
For example, if you need money for an emergency but your credit is less than stellar, don’t assume that you only have bad options. Parents with bad credit ratings needn’t resort to predatory loan companies with astronomical interest rates. Can you get a guarantor loan with bad credit? Yes you can. And from a reliable company that won’t charge an arm and a leg in interest.
Furthermore, drawing up a household budget (and actually sticking to it), cutting back on the little expenses which add up to make a big difference at the end of the month and paying something, anything into your savings account every month can make all the difference to your finances!
Remember that you need some TLC too!
Finally, it’s important to remember that as well as making time for their partners and their children, parents need to make time for themselves too. They need to take at least an hour or two a week to do the things that bring them happiness and provide them with an identity outside of being a parent. Whether that’s going to your 5-a-side football practice, attending a dance class or a coffee morning or simply treating yourself to a long soak in the tub with a good book.
Co-parents need to help each other make time to give themselves!