By Sinead Hamill
Most people who care for and work with children already put in an amazing amount of thought and effort to being good at that role.
However, as we are all human, there will be times when we don’t make the best decisions. Work, energy levels, personal interests etc. all play a part in distracting us from being the very best carers we can be and this is a natural reality, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel guilty of this. It’s true, nobody expects you to be perfect, but perhaps there are some areas, that with a bit of self-reflection, we can all improve on as child carers:
Relax a bit: As adults with busy lives, many of us expect a lot from children, possibly pushing them too, far too soon. Instead of pushing them, try supporting them, allowing space, time and opportunities to develop at their own rate. It will be all too soon when you realise they have become adults with pressures and responsibilities but by granting them the privilege of growing in a relaxed, supportive environment, you will likely see them grow into emotionally well-adjusted, calm individuals.
Commit to spending more quality time with your children: Whilst children learn from and have fun with peers and siblings, spending quality time with the adults in their lives is also vitally important to their growth and development. If your child feels valued, worthwhile and important to you, this will help to cement high self-esteem and confidence in them. Take the time to listen to their news, worries, adventures and experiences. Have fun, playing games, going on trips together and learning from each other. You may find that planning and committing to spending quality time with the children will help you to let go of your own baggage for that time
Lead by Example: Like it or not, kids are watching your behaviour all the time. This is how they learn. So practicing healthy habits such as mindfulness, healthy eating and exercising will encourage the children to learn about and value the benefits of healthy living. Respecting yourself, the children and others sets a great example and will help them to develop this same level of conscientiousness and compassion towards themselves and others.
Reflection: Develop the habit of reflecting on your day and interaction with your children. Whilst I would really encourage you not to be too hard on yourself, often there will be one or two small things we could try to improve on. Set yourself small challenges and give yourself credit for recognising these potential areas of improvement and your attempts to grow.
Support: Let this New Year be the year you realise you don’t have to do everything yourself. Reach out to others. Support them and allow them to support you. We all need breaks, advice and other forms of support at times, so become part of a community where you can give and receive this support. We are all working for the one cause – The health, well-being, happiness and development of our children.
Deciding to take this on will bring more rewards to you and your children, setting the foundation for a childhood you will all enjoy and remember throughout your lives.