This pandemic has taught us all some unexpected lessons about ourselves, and here’s one to take to heart if you haven’t yet: Parents, your wellness matters.
Between remote schooling and COVID-cautious in-person school or other activities for your kids, you’re certainly not alone if the pandemic has found you up to your eyeballs in simply making life functional for your child. Connectivity issues. Socialization concerns. Screen-time worries. And more behavioral issues than usual, most likely, as your child navigates their own response to this “new normal.” Being a parent now requires an all-new level of skill and effort.
And most of the time, we do it gladly! Of course, we want our kids to be happy. Of course, we want them to thrive, and we want to protect them from undue strife or struggle any way we can.
But here’s the thing: If we all lived by that saying, “You’re only as happy as your least happy child,” we’d doom ourselves to a lifetime of limited joy.
Children are an immeasurable source of joy one minute, then a seemingly insurmountable stressor the next. Until we take our happiness into our own hands and unhook it from our kids, we won’t experience our innately loving and peaceful core with any consistency.
And bonus: the happier and more at peace you are, the more able you are to show up with strength, courage, and commitment for those you love. Prioritizing your own wellness is a win-win for everyone.
Parents, here are 4 ways to set your happiness free:
The Giving and Receiving Compassion Meditation.
Breathe compassion in for yourself and out for the other person who is hurting, whether it is your child, yourself, or another parent. You can also breathe in the other person’s suffering and the suffering of all the people in your situation (including yourself) and breathe out peace and light. You can even breathe in the suffering of all the children who are suffering and breathe out peace and light.
The Here-and-Now Stone.
Choose a stone for yourself. I have a here-and-now stone on a cord around my neck. I also have one in my purse that my daughter Cara bought for me. It has a cool mother-energy symbol cut into it. I find myself reaching up for the stone on my necklace and rubbing it between my fingers on and off during the day. When you are focused on your here-and-now stone, you are in the present moment and not worrying about your child’s past or future.
The Joy List.
I cannot recommend this highly enough: make a joy list and do one thing from it each day. When you are feeling joy, remember to let it fill you up for a few breaths so that you are installing that positive mental state and rewiring your brain for more happiness and resilience!
The Gratitude Journal.
Each night, write the answers to these two questions in your gratitude journal: What did I enjoy today? What am I grateful for today? This is proven to create a positive feedback loop which makes people happier and healthier.