Picture shows a lego person broken into small pieces to represent how a parent might be feeling in when they are overwhelmed

Dear Parent feeling overwhelmed & on the edge

It’s not just you! This is how so many parents are feeling right now. Here’s a few reasons why and what you can do about it:

  • Send PE Kit. Don’t send PE Kit. Sign the trip form. Send items for the summer fayre. Attend this assembly. And so the list goes on. The end of term is super busy with lots of change; moving up day, sports day, extra events and more. The odds are your parent admin and taxi workload is much bigger than usual.
  • “Endoftermitus” is rife right now – all the children and all the adults are getting more and more tired at the same time which makes EVERYTHING a bit more heightened. Hot weather may be impacting sleep and energy. A busier diary often means tired and overwhelmed children and parents which means everyone probably has less patience and capacity for staying calm. The odds are your child needs more patience and understanding than usual when you have less capacity to offer it. It’s no wonder you’re feeling closer to the edge of your resources than usual!
  • You’re also living with the impact of years of fear, stress and worry – we’ve spent over years being bombarded with fear based messages; Covid, cost of living, shortages, climate change and uncertainty around mortgages and work. If you’re feeling the pinch then that’s an added stress along with all the negative messages which seem to be constant. Even the football isn’t that great!

This is before we also factor in any specific needs and challenges of your child or family.

So what can you do which doesn’t cost even more energy?

1. Manage your expectations. It’s often your expectations of yourself which are most hard to manage – I know it’s not just me that finds this one tough – but are your expectations of yourself realistic right now? What do you need to drop? Which are the helpful battles to fight? Maybe you have to let some things go right now. It doesn’t have to be forever, but for a couple of weeks you may need to lower the bar. If you find this particularly tough then instead of looking at what you haven’t done, try looking at what you’ve accomplished over the last year.

2. Mute those who suck your energy and wellbeing (as much as possible – I’m not talking about ignoring your kids!). Whether it’s the news, people with great intentions or just the shininess of life on social media, finding ways to give yourself space from those who drain your energy can help. Sometimes just temporarily snoozing that friend who is “loving life” on social media may be the antidote you need when you’re just about getting through the day.

3. Build in moments to pause and breathe! This might be literal or just 10 mins in the garden with a cup of tea, a walk round the block or taking time to watch your favourite show. When you’re topped up it’s much easier to give out to those around you. A few moments to recover may pay dividends later on.

4. Connect with people who uplift you. It does take effort to do this, but it’s an important one and often gets missed in the busyness of dashing from one thing to the next. Who uplifts you? What connections are missing? How can you connect with them in small and big ways?

5. Speak to yourself with kindness and compassion. Research* shows that self compassion is far more beneficial than beating yourself up. This could be the ideal time to start a new habit with your self talk. What do you need to hear right now?

6. Reach out and talk to someone – offloading to someone who really listens can make a huge difference. It may not feel like it changes anything, but it can be like a fog lifting – making the burden lighter and the way forward clearer. Who do you you know who listens well?

So before you head off to the next thing I’d encourage you pause, take a breath and find one small step you can take in the next day – whether from this list, or something else that you know works for you – then make a commitment to give yourself that much needed little boost.

Go gently with yourself at this intense time of year.

Julie is an ICF accredited coach who offers vital thinking space to busy parents. She’s passionate about children growing up experiencing acceptance, belonging and connection. Her background includes working with young people in education, as a foster carer and being a mum. She is very experienced in the additional challenges some young people experience including SEN, neurodivergence and trauma

You can book an initial consultation with her at: https://calendly.com/optimumcoaching

Featured image: Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

* For more information on Self Compassion see Kirsten Neff’s research. You can find out more at: https://self-compassion.org/