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“Why aren’t I a natural at parenting?” Parenting SOS

There’s no such thing as a perfect parent; each stage is just that – a stage. On a recent episode of Happy Mum Happy Baby: Parenting SOS, Giovanna Fletcher sat down with actress T’Nia Miller and Emma Motherwell, Campaign Manager for the NSPCC to shine light on the struggles parents face, the pressures of feeling perfect, and the support you can find through the NSPCC’s Online Parenting Advice Pages

For Parent Mental Health Day, we asked our community to share with us their Parenting SOS on all things mental well-being, from coping with burnout to reconciling with life pre-parenthood. Here’s the questions & queries you submitted, and the advice our guests had to offer. 

 

A member of the Happy Mum Happy Baby community asked: “Why am I not a natural at parenting?”

Feeling like you’re not a “natural” at parenting is a common concern among new parents. Despite it being a feeling we all go through at points, that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re experiencing it. It can make you feel like you’re not doing good enough, taking a toll on your mental well-being and self-esteem. 

It’s essential to recognise and celebrate the little things you do for your child that have a positive impact on the development – the things you do ‘naturally’ that you don’t even realise you’re doing! Like playing peek-a-boo with your baby, which builds neural connections within their brain.

In our episode, T’Nia shares her experience feeling like being a mum came very organically to her when her children were young. She shares “And then they hit a certain age – and I was like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” If you’re struggling right now, remember a time and stage will come where you excel – and that’s your superpower. Embrace your strengths and remember that parenting is a mix of challenges and successes.

 

“How can I cope with consistent burnout?”

One of the most common challenges parents face is dealing with consistent burnout. The juggling act of parenthood, combined with the pressures from all sides, can be overwhelming. So, how do you cope with burnout that’s affecting you and, in turn, your family?

As Emma Motherwell from NSPCC shares, coping with burnout varies from one parent to another and can depend on the unique circumstances of the individual. However, there are some general strategies that can help.

Seeking Support: Maintaining a support network is crucial. Whether it’s family or friends, having people you can lean on, share your feelings with, and receive help from can make a significant difference.

Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and emotions can serve as a therapeutic outlet. Keeping a journal can help you process burnout and stress, providing a space for self-reflection and identifying areas that need attention.

Creating Your Space: Consider carving out a small, private area in your home where you can take a moment to regroup. Even if your children are nearby, having a designated “me-time” spot can be rejuvenating.

Managing Information Overload: In today’s digital age, keeping tabs on news and information can be overwhelming. Be mindful of how much information you consume and consider taking breaks to manage your media intake.

 

Lastly, a member of our community asked How do I address perfectionism in parenting?”

As parents, we can feel a lot of pressure to be perfect, which is often exacerbated by social media portrayals of flawless family lives – Giovanna describes this as the “crisp white sheets and smiley faces” we see on Instagram

“If there’s a perfect parent…I’d love to be introduced to them” shares T’Nia. As parents, it’s up to us to address the perfectionism, and acknowledge that it’s unrealistic. Parenting can be messy and challenging, and by openly discussing our experiences, we help eradicate that pressure, creating a supportive community where everyone can relate, learn from each other, and help combat feelings of inadequacy.

 

NSPCC have just launched their Online Parenting Advice Pages, an online platform for parents & carers to access support with raising their little one. You can check it out here, and be sure to listen to our full episode of Parenting SOS wherever you get your podcasts.

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