When we have our first kid, it’s a huge transition. What they don’t tell you is the transitioning never stops! From becoming a parent of one kid, to maybe another or more. Taking them through their first steps. Getting them ready for school. Coaching them through new friendships. Getting to know their strengths and all the places they need support. Figuring out what they love. Then suddenly they’re moving into high school and we’re helping them explore their future plans. Or coaching them through first crushes and dating, parties and navigating all the physical and emotional changes teenage life brings. Throughout all these moments that our kids are growing and changing, we’re having to grow and change with them, and forever doing our best to stay one step ahead.
So, with all those parenting phases and milestones, we can’t always be the expert. Maybe showering a newborn babe with love was our forte, but now that they’re starting to talk and have big opinions we’re feeling out of our depth. Or maybe we always felt awkward with a baby in our arms, but now they’re older, we’re having a great time showing them cool stuff, teaching them sports and figuring out what they love. Maybe we found parenting younger kids a bit awkward, but now that their teens we’re thriving helping them feel confident and giving them direction. Every parent is different. And none of us will feel natural the whole time, if ever.
And sometimes life is stressful – paying the bills, relationships, putting food on the table, maintaining, changing or finding work – these things can demand our focus and make juggling the everyday parenting stuff extra challenging. This is often when it hits us – we need support. We need more than just us running the show. We need our kids to be learning from and being loved by more than just their parents, but a whole community. And as parents we need that too. It’s like the old saying goes – it takes a village to raise a child.
So, what can we do to build that village? A great place to start is to think of the people we already know. Maybe it’s our single mate whose really good at soccer and could really be teaching the kids some tricks. Maybe it’s asking the creative aunty to give the kids an afternoon art lesson. Maybe we’ve got that mate whose really good with money and could help us make a budget. Maybe it’s the highly organised friend could help us organise our kids’ toys or wardrobes. Maybe it’s about getting involved in a parent groups, or our schooling communities so we have people to talk to about the parenting journey. Even just a smile or small chat to another parent at the pickup can set the wheels in motion.
Sometimes it’s easier to ask for a hand when we make ourselves ready to help others too. It doesn’t have to be anything huge – just thinking about what we love, and what comes easy to us, and offering it to others.
Checking ourselves and making sure we’re being honest about where we’re at is another good thing to practice. Instead of being tempted to parent-flex and list all the amazing things our kids are doing, we can choose to be honest about the mix of highs and lows in our life. It’s these conversations that open doors up for others to be real, to offer some tips or share their own story. When we can be real with each other, that’s when we begin to see the places that we can help each other out.
But even when we have people to chat with, there are times throughout the parenting journey when those around us might not realise we’re exhausted, stressed, or facing some big hurdles. It’s those times we really need to speak up and let others know we need a hand, or even just a chat. It can be such a tough thing to do. Why? Well, it can feel like we’re giving up control to someone else. Or like we’re admitting we’re not perfect. But the fact is, humans are messy. And we weren’t made to be independent. So, asking someone to help us out is all about taking a breath, knowing no one is perfect, and we all need each other to get through this world.
So, let’s make a pact to be real with each other as parents. To help each other out and let our village grow. And if you find you need support beyond your village, visit www.oneplace.org.au and find heaps of services that are there to give Queensland families a helping hand.