Monday, 9 December 2013

Thank you Kirsten for letting me share this valuable information on my blog.

Confident Parenting: Lessons and Learning

November, 2013

Topic: Why am I finding this so hard?
This was a question I was asked recently in a post-natal group I was delivering to.  It came from a woman who prior to having her baby was in a highly professional, highly trained, highly stressful job and was excelling at it.  She was at a loss as to how this little bundle of love and light was rendering her completely incompetent!

I sympathised, poured her a hot cup of tea and then asked her: why are you surprised?
Just because you are a lawyer/ A&E consultant/ teacher/ designer when you have your baby, and successfully managing and thriving in that role, does not automatically mean you will cope as a parent.

  • You had training, learning, exams for your job. Years of it.  Most probably your only introduction to being a parent was watching your own parent you, watching a friend/ sister, and attending a 3 session antenatal class (and that really only talks about the delivery and a fraction of what comes after).  Why do you think you are not going to struggle and have dark days? There is no 'parenting training' and no baby manual.
  • Being a teacher/ lawyer/ gardener provides some degree of emotional separation. You most probably do not teach your own children, represent your own children or garden for your own children.  When it is something of you and from you which is there making demands of you that you're not sure what they mean, it is different. It is difficult.  It is hard.  It can hurt so much more to feel so useless or unknowing.  There feels more at stake and you are emotionally invested in this little being more than you've been in anyone before.
  • Your job probably had working hours.  Whether you had the odd overtime day or went in on the occasional weekend to catch up, there was still a break. Time out. Physical separation.  Parenting is 24/7.  Sometimes there can be no break, at all, for days...  It can be an incredible adjustment
  • to try and make: having demands made on your time, energy, and body constantly.
You can do it though- it DOES get easier! 
I know that is a bitter pill to swallow when your baby has been crying for 37 hours and has been feeding for an hour, every hour. Right now you probably want to reach through the screen and throttle me with my own platitudes!  You don't want to hear that it will get easier, you want it easier now! Understandably. So here's a few ideas on how to do that:
  • Take a few very deep and very long breaths. Drop your shoulders, relax your toes.  Breathe again. Allow some seconds to gather yourself together and get some distance and perspective.  Breathe again.
  • Give yourself a break- literally and figuratively.  Knowing now why it is not an automatic given to be able to cope as a parent, stop being so hard on yourself!  It is not easy, there are no rules.  You can only do what you can, when you can.  And take a physical break: hand the baby over to someone in your support network, crying or not.  Go for a walk. Go to bed.  Whatever you need to do to feel recharged and calm, do it.
  • talk to another parent. Go see a fellow mother, go to a baby group or have someone come to visit you. You may not feel like exposing your parenting inadequacies to the world but actually, admitting your struggles and sharing them with others, can be very healing and helpful.  You will feel you are not alone which may not solve your immediate problem but can be incredibly reassuring.
  • remember who you were 'before baby' (bb) and connect with that.  As a teacher/ lawyer/ engineer you had numerous skills and talents, draw on them to help yourself through the difficulties.  Just because you aren't 'trained as a parent' doesn't mean all your other abilities are obsolete- you just need to be creative in using them to your own positive effect.  Also, it is helpful if you can, to reconnect with activities you used to do 'bb': arrange to go horse riding/ start knitting/ taking photos- whatever you used to do that was part of 'you'.  You may not be able to do the 3 day sea kayaking trips of old but a little bit of something is better than nothing and will ease the feeling of being completely disconnected with yourself.
These are just some of the ways you can make things easier, now.  If you want to take a look at a more comprehensive range of suggestions, you will find tips for new parents on how to thrive rather than survive here.  Remember: parenting is so much about feeling your way as you go.  There is no other 'job' that dumps you in the deep end quite like parenting.  But you can do it. You can.

You may want to check out some recent blogs that explore the new parent/ motherhood adjustment a bit more:

3 truths you must know about becoming a mother
3 reasons not to read parenting books
Autumn and Slow Parenting

In calm and confidence,
Kirsten Hanlon

Mums and More


Control Your Critical Voice
6th November 8pm

Build Your Parenting Foundation
27th November 8pm


Affirmations for Mothers


ABOUT Kirsten Hanlon
(B.A. Education and Psychology, PG Dip Teaching, Dip LC, distinction)

Kirsten Hanlon is creator and director of Mums and More.

She is dedicated to helping and supporting parents in developing their parenting confidence, using gentle and practical techniques.

Her parenting philosophy is not about perfect parenting; just parenting that is perfect for you. With training and experience in Education and Coaching, Kirsten runs a private practice in the Cotswolds, England and works with all mothers and new parents in building life-long parenting confidence.

An author and speaker, Kirsten has also worked closely with local authority child-care professionals in developing their expertise relating to post-natal content and delivery.

You can find all you need to know and more about Kirsten and Mums and More on the website:

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