Stop sleepwalking through parenting and look out for number one. By Siri Arti
To run or not to run? Years ago, I wrote a parenting column called ‘Run for the hills’, but today as I contemplate my role as a parent, I am considering ways to remain right where I am – to be the most effective safety net I can be. You can run for the hills when those you leave behind are strong and feel safe without you. When this is not the case, and you need to stay put, self-care becomes a priority. Parenting is a beautiful, yet challenging full time job. Learning good parenting skills is a life journey. Sometimes it comes easy, and other times it feels like an elusive mystery that can’t quite be pinned down. Conscious parenting is more organic than controlled, and therefore, unpredictable by nature. We work towards being present and accountable, and not getting lost in the story. As parents, we put our families first, taking care of each member, in each moment, before falling into bed at night wondering where the day went.
Losing sight of our priorities starts in the early years. A simple example is spending hours in the kitchen making mashed organic delights for our weaning angels, while grabbing a quick coffee to sustain us on the school run. Years later, and perhaps more children, we are still running to keep up.
Need for awareness
Putting everyone before you takes its toll on your overall wellbeing, so it’s important to stay watchful for the signs that you may be in need of some loving. The ideal situation is that your self-care is so ‘on point’ that you never feel out of control. But that’s like achieving the optimal Downward Dog – you know how to do it, but how often do you align yourself so perfectly that your teacher passes you by when adjusting the class? It takes careful consideration, good personal management and discipline to maintain an effective self-care regime.
Awareness is the key to positive change. As a yoga teacher I am privileged to witness students of all ages manage a class. I have learned that people are often unaware of how they feel in a given situation. Lack of awareness keeps us disconnected from ourselves. If you move through a practice (or life) without connection to body or mind, you are sleepwalking. This shifts when you become mindful; you move into flow recognising what you need in the moment and thereby bringing positive change. Taking this skill into parenting, being aware of how you feel, enables you to support yourself in the moment. This will have a big impact on your life, and that of your family. Cause and effect. Feeling out of control? Stop and do something to restore balance. But this is an ever-changing journey, so start by exploring your options for improvement. Take it slow and remember to be the silent observer. It’s either that or sleepwalking – and life is way too short for that.
Tuning into self-care
Explore touch therapy
Treat yourself to a massage, reflexology or energy healing. This will remind you that you have a body that needs care. It will help keep your energy flowing in your body and maintain a strong connection to self.
Into the wild
Get outdoors and connect with nature. Smell the roses and dip your feet into natural bodies of water. Observe the moon and the stars and creatures large and small. This will connect you to the bigger picture, reminding you that life is cosmic, and you are not alone.
Find your tribe
Connect with friends you can both laugh and cry with. Measure and balance your time as a parent and an adult. Remember to get out and play with your friends. Sharing with others will improve your quality of life, but be discerning and choose wisely.
Join a tennis club, get a dog or roll out your yoga mat. You must stretch out your connective tissue each day to avoid your body stiffening. Be flexible and strong so that you can keep up with your young ones and nourish your brain with that juicy spinal fluid elixir.
Have a healthy attitude to food. Avoid extreme eating; instead, get the balance right. Enjoy a food rainbow, including a variety of colour and textures that promote inspiring and exciting mealtimes.
Do whatever it takes to get a decent night’s sleep; it is a basic human necessity.
And don’t forget to play, people! Play, frolic, smile and be well; after all, happiness really is your birthright.
Siri Arti is a yoga teacher and the founder of Starchild Yoga, which runs regular yoga teacher trainings in the UK and overseas. A five-day teacher training, which can be taken as a conscious parenting course or a yoga for children course, takes place on August 9-13, 2017. Visit: starchildyoga.com