People often talk about effects of social media on teens and young adults, but I also often think of the impact of social media of parents, says Telethon Speech & Hearing’s Acting Head of Clinics Kerry Picotti.
We often see posts detailing all these wonderful things we could and should be doing with our children over and above the everyday care, not to mention the various appointments our families have to fit in. This pressure to constantly do more can lead to guilt, which I know, as a parent myself, I have often experienced. TSH psychologist, Nerida Beaumont, shared some useful resources with me which I thought all parents may benefit from, specifically some empowering ways to stop feeling guilty:
- Think of all the things you are doing
If you are prone to feeling like you should be doing more for your child/children, take the time to write a list of all the things you do for them (e.g. taking them to appointments, preparing meals, etc). Keep the list handy and look at it when you are feeling like you are “not doing enough”. I often sit in the groups and am amazed by how much parents just do naturally to support their child. Getting down in the ground with your little one, talking to and playing with them is part of developing their brains and is an achievement you can add to your list!
- Appreciate yourself and all that you do.
You might consider keeping a journal. At the end of every day, write down at least three things you did that day that worked towards your goals or helped someone you care about. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. No matter how small, little moments are the most important as a parent. For example, having a meal together and talking about what you’re eating promotes language and social interaction. At the end of the week, take a look at all you have written. Writing down what you achieve each day can help you focus on your accomplishments.
- Think about how you would see things if the roles were reversed.
Chances are you wouldn’t think a friend wasn’t doing enough if roles were reversed, given all they had going on? Often it is easy to be empathetic to others, but we are hard on ourselves. We think everyone else is doing more than we are, but when it comes down to it, we are trying our best in a very busy world.
- Avoid “all or nothing” thinking.
We tend to think that if we don’t get everything done, we are not good enough. Try to avoid this black and white thinking and appreciate what you do achieve. Try to consider your attempts in context, rather than always demanding excellence.
- Try set realistic expectations.
Thinking we can do it all often leads to disappointment. Try to consider your own context and what expectations you place on yourself that are realistic or may be unrealistic. Remember, every family is different and what we are able to manage is different and that is okay. Raising a child is a marathon, rather than a sprint, and little things we are able to achieve over the long run will make a big impact. Quality time spent together is more important than setting up elaborate activities or games, or providing fancy toys.
- Realise it’s okay to take care of your own needs.
Often, we put the needs of our family before our own. However, over time, not caring for ourselves can lead to burnout and then we are not able provide the level of care for others we would like. Be kind to yourself and make sure to make time for yourself to relax and engage in activities you enjoy.
It takes a lot of practice and considered effort to change the way we think, so be patient with yourself.
(Adapted from 8 Empowering Ways to Stop Feeling Guilty | Psychology Today)