Let’s talk about spinning plates.
My plate spinning career began over 17 years ago when I had my first child when, like most parents, I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing and not only did the balancing, well, not balance at all, it didn’t exist. Then with age and experience I adjusted to juggling the demands of family life (most of the time), and eventually came to accept it as something that is in a constant state of flux – not great when you’re trying to keep those plates spinning above your head.
I’m sure I’m not alone in relating the reality of modern family life to spinning plates? I often talk about the incredible pressures placed on parents from many different channels including work commitments, juggling childcare arrangements, managing and balancing finances, possibly caring for older relatives, trying to get a good work/life balance, running a home. The list is not exhaustive by any means and on top of all this you have the job of being parents.
Then there’s the role models conveyed on television and in social media; what peer groups and friends are saying and doing (two completely different things!); how parents were parented themselves; how their partner was parented; what the in-laws have to say; and if you’re in a relationship or a lone parent – all factors influencing how you function as a parent.
Being a parent can be incredibly difficult but most people, most of the time, cope with the challenges that modern family life brings and adapt their own skills and experiences to their style of parenting. Note the emphasis on ‘most of the time’ as nobody ever gets it perfectly right. We learn by our mistakes and move on but life events can also throw us curveballs that leave us struggling to keep the plates spinning in difficult and challenging situations.
What happens when the plates lose momentum?
Frankly speaking, parents are the foundation of the family and if they begin to struggle, then the whole family begins to struggle and this can ultimately impact on the child’s safety, growth and development, and their future health and wellbeing. We know that a significant part of the population have problems balancing what I consider to be the four cornerstones of good health and wellbeing – being active, good nutrition, sleep and positive mental health. Add in the pressures from modern family life and it can be extremely challenging for parents to balance any of these and achieve good health and wellbeing for themselves and their children.
But why focus on parents? Because the problems arising from the imbalance of the four cornerstones of good health and wellbeing are becoming more and more problematic for children. They’re being less active, we know there’s a significant number of children starting school who are overweight or obese, an increasing number of children are struggling with sleep issues and also more and more children are suffering with mental health problems.
This means then from a public health perspective, parents are in a prime position to prevent these issues developing within their family and so it is critical that they have the skills and knowledge to be able to do this.
A slightly mammoth task….?
So what is the solution to enable parents to make this possible without increasing their stresses or producing overwhelm?
But not completely unachievable….
By supporting parents with an early intervention approach LK Parenting addresses the health and wellbeing needs of parents throughout their parenting journey and aims to avoid escalation of problems and future difficulties. If parents develop their resilience and are aware of ways to avoid problems and improve theirs and their child’s health and wellbeing, then this will result in positive outcomes for the whole family.
Using a life course approach of the parenting journey i.e when parents are in the antenatal stage; when they become new parents; when they’re parents of toddlers; and then when they’re parents of older children, means parents can be supported at critical times in their lives.
And through the promotion and awareness of the four cornerstones of positive health and wellbeing – positive mental health, good nutrition, being active and sleep – means that key issues, worries and concerns that parents have can be addressed both on an individual and community basis through 1-1 work, group workshops, educational talks and through social media networks,
Underpinning the approach throughout is the value of promoting positive mental health for parents because without this, the spinning plates will most definitely come crashing down. By encouraging parents to build their resilience and confidence in themselves and focusing on the strengths they already have whilst applying an authoritative parenting style means that parents have the necessary skills early on, ready to put into practice for when life becomes challenging.
Please let me know if you have any thoughts on these issues or would like any support with any aspect of family life. Get in touch either through Facebook, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or get in touch via my website contact form.