It’s 7.52am. It’s rush hour. The dishwasher door is stuck, the humidity has made the bread mouldy and your six-year-old has decided the seam in her uniform is annoying and has stripped off just before you’re about to head out the door. Argghh! Why me?!! Everyone else seems to have it together.
But you’d be surprised, almost every other parent at the school gate has probably had a similar experience that morning. We’ve all just got really good at hiding it.
Our Talking Families research showed that almost 72 per cent of Queensland parents feared being judged if they struggled with parenting. And more than 76 per cent have avoided telling others outside their family they were finding parenting difficult. So, it isn’t just you.
We’ve become experts at putting on a brave front, so sometimes it’s easy to miss when someone is struggling. Signs can be as subtle as being a little quiet or withdrawn. Taking the time to check in with a friend, a fellow school parent, family member or work colleague who doesn’t seem themselves, is a good way to help. And it does help – just to know other parents are going through the same things can make a positive difference.
Our research has shown that most parents that would like to offer help to others or ask for help themselves, but just aren’t sure how to go about it. We’ve got some tips to help you start the conversation, if you’re not sure what to say.
Sometimes, simple acts of kindness can make all the difference to parents who might be dealing with some of life’s bigger challenges. Like offering to take their kids and yours to footy, sharing morning tea with another mum, or recommending a trusted (and reasonably priced!) tradie who knows everything about dishwashers.
Sometimes you may not feel like you have time to lend a hand because you’re barely getting through the daily madness yourself. But studies have shown the act of helping others can improve our own lives, making us healthier, happier and better able to deal with our own worries and stress.
And while you won’t expect to be rewarded, you’ll be amazed how often favours are returned.
Here are some suggestions (big and small) for helping others:
- Drop your son’s teammate home after practice one night
- Invite a new school mum over for a playdate and a coffee
- Offer to babysit for a stressed new mum
- Take notes at the Year 4 Parent/Teacher night for another parent who can’t make it
- Sign up as a family for a walk, run or cycle event that supports a local cause
- Pass on clothes to a family with younger children
- Volunteer for organisations that support your community