I’m sending you lots of love if you have babies starting school or nursery over the next few weeks. They are much stronger than we often give them credit for and ever so brave. It is also ok to shed a few tears because things like this are big milestones. They are also times to sit back, reflect and remind yourself that you are a great mum and that you have been loving your children for this day for some time.
A big hug to you if you are going back to work or starting a new job – September seems to be a busy time for returning to work after maternity leave. Focus on your priorities now and what you can control. It might take a while to settle back into the swing of things but you probably will. If it is truly awful, talk to someone. Ask yourself what it is you really want and if there is any way of getting it. Don’t feel that you are stuck or trapped. There are always, always things you can do.
I’m hoping that these thoughts might help:
1. On holiday I read this brilliant book – Mindset by Dr Carol S Dweck. She coined the phrase ‘growth mindset’ from her observations when working with children. Someone with a growth mindset looks at challenges as opportunities to learn and to change/move forward. Someone with a fixed mindset believes that they are stuck where they are and removes themselves from challenging situations. I would really recommend it, particularly the chapter on what we can do as parents, with love and kindness, to help our children be open to challenges.
We are all always learning. When our babies are little or start school/nursery they have lots of learning to do and you are both going to be frustrated by the challenges this brings. Be loving in the frustration. Learning takes time and it does feel scary – whether you are big or small.
2. Always, always be your child’s safe space and make it abundantly clear that your arms and ears are always open. The biggest lesson I have learned from mothering my girls and watching the good/not to good experiences of others, is that the greatest gift you can give your children and that of safety without judgement. Make sure they know that they can talk to you about anything, at any time and that you will not criticise, get angry or make them feel worse about it than they already do.
Is this easy? No, it really isn’t. Sometimes children do stupid things, they act like complete idiots and you are mad at them BUT they are learning and we all make mistakes. Oh my, I am so glad that my girls haven’t done some of the stupid things I did but they have also done their own! I know that my mothering has been good because they do talk to me. I am really proud of this aspect and it keeps me going when I’m feeling rubbish about other bits of it!
I do jump into bed with my girls and we talk. They know that tears, anger and frustration are all ok. It can be really hard to bite my tongue and not go all ‘grown up’ on them so I’ve worked really hard on my listening skills. Often, they don’t want an answer, they want to talk. This applies whether your little one is 2, 12 or 22. Always be their place of safety.
3. Keep on top of looking after you. It takes a giant amount of emotional energy to navigate new things and you are navigating them for yourself, your family and small one. You can’t do this on an empty cup. Please make sure that you have people looking after you and that you are sharing the load where you can. I know the realities of the juggle so think of little 5/10 minute things you can do for yourself.
4. Finding your playground tribe. I have found the playground to be one of the scariest places in the world for me as a mum. I have also found some wonderful friends there. Please remember that you don’t have to be friends with everyone – that impossible. Not everyone will like you and you won’t like everyone either – that’s exactly how it should be. We are selective beings. Take your time assessing. Be open, welcome and always kind but take your time surveying the field before you jump in. All parents are worried about our children and that doesn’t always bring out the best in us. Don’t judge but do trust your instinct.
5. Teachers are kind. They will look after your baby. Lots of them are mums too so they know exactly how you feel.
6. A final little word to remind you to find your circle of control. You probably have loads going on in your mind. Remember, focus only on what you can control because that is where your power is. Focussing on the other stuff will overwhelm you. It’s not worth being there; it’s uncomfortable and a bit scary.
You can do this. Your baby can most certainly do this – it is possibly their greatest adventure to date. How wonderful to be little, with all the energy and excitement of a child? There will be wobbles – 100% of us wobble – I hope this helps a little. I also feel all your feels.