No one has ever said that being a parent is easy!
Especially if that is being a single parent; having to juggle child care and work commitments, alongside social lives (both ours and probably even more so our children's) and human interaction with others. Some are fortunate to have family members or partners to help out and step in, whilst others rely on friends and other single parents in similar situations. It's ok to ask for help, this is not a sign of weakness, instead it shows strength, to be able to recognise that we can't always do it alone, and nor should we.
Ultimately, we do the best we can for our children and ourselves on any given day. This should not be underestimated, and should instead be celebrated. None of us are Mary Poppins, and if we manage to get through the day, sometimes that is good enough.
However, it can be all to easy when we're tired, stressed, busy, doing household chores, feeling low or just not able to be there for our children, to put them in front of a screen - whether this is TV, computer/games console or smart phone/tablet.
I, like millions of other parents managed to survive by allowing this to happen from time to time. This does not make us bad parents, it makes us human! As long as we are able to recognise this and are mindful as to when this is happening and how often - not all day, every day - then that is a great first step.
Recently we were on a train journey; opposite us there was a mum and her son - he was probably 5 or 6 years old. He had a colouring book and coloured pencils. There was not a screen in sight. They talked for the whole journey (and wow could he talk!), he was so excited to share what colours he was going to use, what they could see outside the window, what they were going to do once they arrived at their destination. They talked to one another about what they were looking forward to - it was beautiful, yet sadly it seems so rare to see out in public.
From personal observations, and talking with friends, at times it feels like we have been thrown back into the Victorian era. To a time where children should be seen and not heard. Although today they are not sent to the nursery or into a corner, but given a screen to keep them quiet.
Human beings, both children and adults are innately sociable creatures, we thrive on interaction from others in our tribe and further afield. Through discussions we learn invaluable skills including listening, conversation, discussion, negotiation; we learn through intonation, facial expressions and body language. We rarely, if ever, learn any of this via our apps, virtual reality and the world of social media.
I am very aware, there is a time and place for these gadgets, but we also need to be aware that they should not replace our parenting or interactions with our children. Before we know it the time has flown and has disappeared all too quickly, the time when our little children want and need us to be their everything in their world. It is during this time that we need to teach them resilience, courage, the ability to question, to share, be kind and safely explore the world around them - we try to be the best parents we can be, but this means we have to be part of it and not a spectator.
Play games with them, walk and talk outside in the fresh air, listen to their worries; actively be there for and with them. Our girls are now in their 20's, we still (when we're together), sit around a table to eat our meal and share what's happening in our lives, we play games and even watch TV or a film together, and chat about it afterwards.
Ultimately, we all need to feel loved, valued, wanted and cared for; children are no different.
If you are struggling and would like some support, why not get in touch with me below
I am a counsellor who wants to empower individuals to be the best version of themselves.