Panic, anxiety, fear, sadness, hope, joy; I don’t know about you but over the last couple of weeks I’ve felt all the feelings at all times. The emotional roller coaster of parenting in a pandemic is something many of us will be riding right now. Sometimes it’s an easy, peaceful ride; one of lazy mornings and film nights, den making and painting rainbows. Sometimes it’s a white knuckle one; fears about health, finances, family and food and oh my days how am I going to protect my children from my own fears and anxieties whilst providing constant entertainment and working to my normal capacity. Sometimes it’s a slow, boring one; days when you’ve run out of crafts, when you’re craving long walks and personal space.
Whether it’s spiraling, boredom or calm, what we’re experiencing as parents and carers, what we’re learning about living with difficult feelings are skills we can share with our children right now. Many of our children are learning these very same new feelings, they too will be feeling bored, happy, irritated, peaceful, confused, sometimes all at the same time. They are learning one of the hardest lessons. Sometimes things are hard, they do feel rubbish, and days can be long and boring. That is part of life.
My 6 year old has a very hard time buying into the idea that you can’t go from a hard feeling to a fantastic one in a single step- and to be honest, so do I- it’s a very human response to leap to solutions and fixes and be ok, all of the time. But this isn’t realistic at the best of times, least of all when we’re dealing with a pandemic.
Lessons we can share with them then, and with ourselves, is that it’s ok to fail, to try again tomorrow, and to get it wrong sometimes. That perfection is a myth, and that’s ok. That we can find peace and joy not just in easy feelings, but in the hard ones too. We can find gratitude in the birds singing in quiet cities, our warm, safe home, our daily chats with far away grandparents. We can teach them that we are all vulnerable humans with beating hearts and complex emotions. These lessons; compassion, gratitude and resilience, will help them right now and way into their futures.
We are asking a lot from small people’s emotional literacy, to identify feelings and know how to respond to them. It’s asking a lot of us too, as parents and carers. But we can start by filing our wellbeing tool boxes with new tools, new ways of doing things and letting go of how we should feel right now. Mindfulness is a great way of doing this; of putting a pause between our thoughts and our actions, tuning into how our bodies are responding, and building a nurturing sanctuary to just be.
That is why I love Wee Seeds, a fantastic digital resource for wellbeing for early years, it helps to build my families own tool box. It gives me the confidence to simply ask how are you feeling, and know that as their parents, whatever the answer is, it's ok.
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