“I need to be at home with my child”
“I need to earn money to ‘contribute’”
“I have to be the best therapist for my child with special needs”
“I will dedicate my life to make sure my child is happy”
“Each meal has to have the perfect balance of taste and nutrition”
These are just a few of the thoughts that run through the mind of a mother in a single minute every day! They are doomed if they choose A and they are doomed if they choose B. The guilt that is unique to mothers never really reduces or ceases.
One might wonder where these thoughts arise from and if they are there, they must be valid or have a reason. The reality is that a woman’s identity has been linked to her role as a mother since generations of patriarchal values, and the identity of a modern woman as being an equal financial provider is a more recent addition to the mountain of guilt. These societal norms haven’t helped women release their burden but only increased it. Most of the badges of honour bestowed on a woman are linked to the achievements of those they are meant to nurture, the act of nurturing themselves termed as selfish or worse not nurturing.
We are fighting systems such as these and many more when we insist on being a better parent - when actually, we need to first nurture ourselves. Taking time out for self care and healing helps one realign themselves and gain a perspective on the challenges they are facing. A house help not being well, a work presentation hitting a snag, the child being clingy or a mommy group sharing a picture on social media of an event you were not invited to- being examples of just some of the smaller challenges that take away from our emotional cup.
A lot of the mothers who come to us at Triyoke- Raising Parents for support share that they wake up feeling like they need to catch up to a train that has already left the station. There is never a feeling of pause or rest as the mind is continuously racing. How is a racing mind to pause and play with their child- which as per studies is the ideal state for learning for a developing brain.
Neural Synchrony in Play
A recent study by the Princeton Baby Lab on the concept of ‘neural synchrony’ explored how when babies and adults are engaged in direct interaction, certain areas of their brains synchronise. The experiment showed that the adults were able to predict when the baby would smile, and the babies were able to predict when the adult would engage with them more through baby talk - this is because a sort of feedback loop was formed between the adult and baby, due to their brain regions ‘syncing up’. Both the brains were able to track joint eye contact and join attention to toys - revealing the fact that when adults and babies play together, their brains can influence each other in different ways.
The Baby Lab team further hypothesized that neural synchrony can have an impact on early brain development, especially in the areas of social skill development and language acquisition.
So it is safe to say that taking out some time everyday to play with your children will not only help deepen your parent-child relationship but also have many positive effects on their cognitive growth and development.
When we take time to reflect and nurture ourselves we
1. slow down the pace of thoughts that run faster than any human machine
2. are able to enjoy the wonder of our children curiosity and not only aid learning but also simultaneously go further into a state of joy
3. open up thinking skills where creativity flourishes
4. bring an aura of joyousness into the family home
At Triyoke Raising Parents we help mothers find ways to overcome their racing thoughts and take the cruise control of a road with self care as its guide. Selfcare can take the form of an activity you enjoy- reading, writing, cooking, art or it can look like release of endorphins through movement like exercise or dance. Selfcare can be in the form of meditation, sleeping or eating well.
The first step towards this would be to notice your guilt. Sometimes guilt can take the form of judgement - towards the self or other parents. According to Patty Wipfler, the founder and Director of Hand in Hand Parenting, USA - parents have an instinct to protect their children from harm and the innate desire to provide them a perfect life. However, it is important to remind ourselves that it is impossible to make your child’s life perfect, but it is also not necessary to!
We need to remember that even if hard things happen in our child’s life, it is not our fault, but it is our responsibility to make sure we are there to do something about it. When we look back at the things that may have happened in our child’s life and feel a sense of regret - there is really only one way to deal with this feeling, and that is - to release it.
Here is where we introduce a beautiful tool called Listening Partnerships that aims to extend the concept of self-care into adult to adult relationships and teach people how to listen to one another for support and release without judgment.
Parents who have learnt this tool have not only been able to support themselves but also create a ripple effect of support in their community. A support that gets extended to their children through acts of kindness. Children who see their mothers caring for themselves are firmly vaccinated against the pandemic of guilt as they grow up into adults themselves.
Sign up for our upcoming workshop on Parenting by Connection - A Hand in Hand USA Parenting Model.
Through this workshop, parents can learn concepts and tools for everyday parenting challenges to help them deepen and strengthen their parent-child relationship.
This workshop is also a pre-requisite for the Hand in Hand Parenting Instructor Certification!