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Parent Wellbeing Webinar - Key Messages

Alice Peel

We just held out first parent wellbeing webinar. Not a child wellbeing webinar.

We love kids, we teach them, we raise them, we write content for their teachers to support their resilience, our evidence-based resources are in 300 schools (you can hear co-founder, Kristina Freeman talk about this in an interview with Channel 7's The Daily Edition last week)

We run workshops for parents to promote connection and provide emotional regulation techniques. Kids are super. And yet, this wellbeing webinar was not about them, it was for parents.

Why? 

Well, for a long time now we have been creating evidence-based curriculum-aligned content for busy teachers to use. We have done so alongside our NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) endorsed teacher wellbeing program. Because in the words of teacher wellbeing expert,   Daniela Falecki, there is no student wellbeing without teacher wellbeing. We wholeheartedly agree and decided that in light of the constant change taking place in households across the world that student wellbeing would also not be nearly as effective without parent wellbeing.

During the webinar, Kristina used the analogy of oxygen masks on a flight. As adults, we are asked to put our masks on first before attending to the children in our care so that we can actually be of benefit to them. As cliche as it sounds, the same applies for being there for our children emotionally: we risk literally passing out if we are not resilient ourselves.

Again, we tend to reserve the term 'building resilience' for children. And yet, as parents we are just as capable of being low in the good stuff as we are in our ability to grow it. During the webinar, we used Dr Sarah Mckay's beautiful analogy of humans being born as orchids or dandelions. 

Orchids represent children that bloom if lovingly cultivated but they wilt and wither if neglected.

In contrast, adaptable resilient children who don’t get easily stressed are like little dandelions: they’ll grow and thrive anywhere.

Here is the thing, whether we be an orchid or a dandelion we can all build resilience in ourselves as parents. Right now, is the time to be collectively and individually working on our resilience. In order to not only survive this period but to potentially thrive we need to develop a greater tolerance to uncertainty. Again, Dr Sarah Mckay has suggestions for how to do this. At Grow Your Mind we have an entire poster dedicated to taking care of your mind, which in turn should boost resilience. There are 10 invitations on it, for the sake of busy, time-poor parents we will focus on the 3 we covered from the webinar:

3 tips for being a resilient parent:

 

1. Joy 

2. Gratitude

3. Sleep

 

Here is our cheat sheet on these 3:

JOY - an underrated emotion. Parent became a verb and suddenly we find ourselves parenting... jobs can sometimes come with the connotation of being a grind. So, as a parent, where can you bring more joy not only into your role as a mother or father but joy for you and only for you? Joy has this incredible potency, whereby even thinking about the things that bring you joy can bring on health benefits from a cellular level.

Our tip - surround yourself with penthouse people. Dr Julia Baird has a wonderful lift analogy of this. In her latest book, Phosperesence, Baird talks about getting into a lift with a friend. If you are forever feeling like you end up in the basement maybe it is time to surround yourself with those that lift you, literally making you feel elated and as though you had arrived at the penthouse. 

 

GRATITUDE - needs to be authentic but when it is - watch out! Gratitude is the superpower to good mental health. Find a way to practice that doesn't feel awkward and butt-clenching. The idea being, if you have a strong awareness of the good things in your life, you are more likely not to hit one of the key barriers to resilience: pervasiveness. This is where you feel like a setback or sadness or stress will be present in every area of your life. Gratitude enables you to see that despite all of the mishaps of life, there is still a great deal to feel thankful for.

 

Our tip - start writing texts to people you appreciate or maybe sharing your happy moment at the end of the day.

 

SLEEP - you could drink alcohol and eat junk food and yet nothing would be as detrimental for your brain health as lack of sleep. We struggle to focus, to emotionally regulate and to make good decisions when we are sleep deprived. This may seem like a tricky one to control. Maybe it just starts with this: treat sleep with the same respect as you would exercise and eating well. Put down the busy badge, surrender that extra bit of work at night and choose sleep.

Our tip - reclaim the power nap! 15 minutes, do it!

Did you miss the parent wellbeing webinar? Watch it here

Grow Your Mind - as seen on: Channel 7's The Daily Edition


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