So you’ve found yourself on another mum blog, there are so many. In searching for resources, advice, and strategies to help me cope with my struggles at home, I visited numerous mum blogs and various parenting Communities across the internet. What I kept finding were either Picture Perfect super moms, gatekeeping the secret to their wonderful lives, or on the flip side, were mums who had just accepted defeat. That parenting was an impossible task to excel at and they were more than happy to wallow in their misery.
I couldn’t help but think there must be a middle ground. The more I dove into gentle parenting the more I was able to access real advice and resources. But finding these creators left me looking for something more relatable. As much as I appreciated their content and it’s helped me a large amount, I can’t deny how different their situations tended to be. Often they are stay-at-home mums (or work-from-home mums, as a lot of them tend to be coaches), they have larger homes than the average person and have more resources at their disposal. We don’t have the space for calm-down corners and the downstairs neighbours don’t want to hear our kid stomp out their angries for the 15th time today.
A Bit About Me
We are a family of five living in a small two-bed flat (currently waiting for relocation) and we are a single, low-income household. Living in such close quarters doesn’t easily lend itself to a lot of the advice in the gentle/respectful parenting community. There is not a lot of space to provide sensory stimulation or even space to have distance from one another. Even as a parent, it is so easy to be overwhelmed in such a small home because you can never get more than a room away from your children. You can always hear them, there is never quiet. And when the number one piece of advice to help regulate yourself when you feel overwhelmed with your children is to walk away, find a quiet space take a moment to calm down; it can feel almost impossible when you don’t have that luxury. What I needed was advice on how to calm down in the moment that didn’t involve finding a quiet space that wasn’t available to me.
I began my journey to find better ways to parent shortly after the lockdown eased. At the time my kids were two and four and they played so aggressively that it bordered on dangerous. It got to a point where I couldn’t get my kids to listen unless I was screaming like a banshee. Any ability I previously had to maintain patience was obliterated over lockdown. I found myself getting overwhelmed by almost everything. I was an irritable wreck, on edge all the time. Even my partner was aware that this wasn’t a normal reaction to parenting. But anytime I reached out for support I was met with people who claimed never to have a problem with their kids doing as they’re told, some recommended physical punishment and then there was the classic “you’ve got this”(whole post on this sentiment is coming soon).
Finding Pieces of the Puzzle
I had heard of Montessori through my daughter’s nursery and from there found out about gentle parenting. I was eager to apply these techniques in my home, they made it look so simple. I quickly discovered that they weren’t working for me. Maybe Gentle Parenting really only did work on gentle kids.
I persevered and it was a struggle. I did more research and suddenly became very thankful for the algorithm; it will show you more of what it thinks you want to see, exposing you to different creators over time. It was then I learned that I didn’t have the whole picture. The creators I’d been listening to only gave me the cliff notes (or in some cases the wrong information entirely). But these new ladies had such valuable information that had such a positive impact on our home life and my mental health. But there was still something eluding me.
It dawned on me that they existed in very different environments to my own family and that expecting their advice to be directly applicable was like trying to fit a square peg through a round hole. There were gaps. I needed to adapt this advice and find my own strategies to make this work.
I Know I’m Not Alone
There are many situations I’ve found myself in that I’ve never seen emulated or used as an example online. This is why I want to discuss parenting with full transparency. The pitfalls, the triumphs and the days that you feel like it’s just beyond you. I want people to know they aren’t alone, and that struggling through this doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. There are many reasons why we don’t automatically have the skills to parent our children with the kindness and respect we would like to and most of the time it isn’t our fault. We may have been raised poorly ourselves. When we reach out for help, we get the ever-irritating “You’ve got this momma”. You end up feeling stuck.
Few talk about the journey of changing your parenting style when you have children of different ages. Your younger children will adapt quicker than your older children because they’ve had less exposure to the previous parenting style. And you will have to change your approach for each child. I have a 7-year-old who is emotionally immature, a 5-year-old who is easily frustrated and aggressive when angry and an 18-month-old who has experienced nothing but gentle, respectful parenting and is thriving.
I have one heck of a story to share and some of the situations may come off as extreme, but sometimes our lives as parents can get extreme. But I hope to be able to offer some advice and tips that you can take away and help you through times of struggle.