This article is all about Parental Self-compassion and written by our friend Jo Wilson who is a neuropsychotherapist, relationship specialist, workshop
facilitator, guest speaker, weekly columnist for the Sunshine Coast Daily and
breakfast co-host on Salt 106.5. You can find all of her work here.
Whether you’ve mucked up at work, forgotten the dress up day at school or your teenager
refuses to detach from that online game, your brain is the key to respond positively to all
these challenges. We won’t always seamlessly execute the greatest response, but there’s
certainly no point continuing to repeat the pattern of overwhelm by learning skills to manage
the anxiety and frustration.
I’m sure you’d agree, it’d be ludicrous to commence strategising about being the best Super
Mum or Wonder Dad before we’ve ensured we are the best version of ourselves. That is,
well balanced with appropriate attention to our own spiritual, physical, psychological, social
selves! Why not focus on an upward spiral of continued growth and change by learning to
take care of you!
Start with spending time considering what your values are and how much time you dedicate
to nurturing your spirituality?
There is power in silence, meditation and prayer. Even just a few minutes a day can
make a difference! When we meditate, our mind naturally begins to relax into
deeper levels of rest. I’ll “sink” deeper into explaining why.
In the white matter of the brain there’s a fatty substance called myelin. It is a “sheath”
that protects nerve fibres, inhibits energy loss, and helps information move along neural
pathways. When you repeat an activity, the myelin coating thickens and information travels
faster along those neural highways.
In the same way, meditation, prayer and mindfulness that involves attending to the
sensations in the here and now, energises certain layers of the neocortex in your brain and
adds thickness to the prefrontal cortex and insula. Pay attention to your breathing, heart rate,
muscles, feelings and desires and the left hemisphere of your pre-frontal cortex turns on and
prevents your right hemisphere from obscuring with negativity. This encourages you to
approach life with greater clarity and fervour versus becoming easily overwhelmed and
anxious by challenging tasks such as… taming lions in a circus or parenting. Same thing
Isn’t that a great reason to dedicate time to engaging with your spiritual self? Give your brain
some peace by sitting on rocks by the beautiful ocean and talking. They probably have
similar listening skills to your children anyway!
Now I draw your attention to nurturing parental physical and psychological well-being. It’s our
responsibility to model this for our children by focussing on continued growth and change.
Whilst parenting involves plenty of self-sacrifice, we create a beautiful nurturing environment
for our children when we nourish ourselves.
Sweat so you don’t forget: Now that you know how to rejuvenate your mind, it’s time to
boost that with exercise. Sorry Mum and Dad bods, there’s no avoiding this one. It’s been
proven time and time again, that your brain loves it and you’ve got a better chance of
keeping up with your children’s energy levels too. Encourage your little student cherubs to
take short bursts of exercise before they’re trying to accomplish a new task as they’ll have a
far better chance of remembering how to do it. You’ll be able to focus better at work,
improve your comprehension both for tasks at hand and 48 hours later! Don’t set yourself up
or failure. Start slow and build up to longer stints of exercise so it’s a habit. Repetition and
consistency is the key.
The benefits will undoubtedly flow through to all your relationships when you’re feeling better
within yourself from all those happy endorphin chemicals, as well as looking great. Here on
the Sunshine Coast, we have amazing picturesque places to frolic, pump and squat and I’m
sure there’s plenty where you live too. It’ll be spring soon so why not tackle those annoying
rolls of winter comfort NOW!
A beautiful mind: Parenting involves so many joyful, exciting, sad and frustrating twists and
turns. For this reason, it’s handy to develop a game plan for being more flexible and resilient
to deal with challenges in the most optimum way.
As a start, take some regular 15-minute time slots to visualise, plan and write down what
your best version of you looks like? Your core values about parenting and relationships can
be quite different to the next person. Who is the ideal you as a parent, sibling, daughter, son
etc? What blocks any inconsistencies? You CAN do anything you put your mind to, which
should especially be inspiring your children. Seek out authors or experts in the fields you’re
challenged by and enjoy a beautiful mind.
The social you. A parent with a rich private life that features integrity through contribution as
well as plenty of fun, launches healthy balanced children to their success!
We have plenty of ideas on how to have fun as a family! Check out some fun minute to win it games here and here. Or you can whip up some fun activities at home such as our DIY Paint! Check the recipe out here. We also have plenty of other fun recipes using only two ingredients, check them all out here.