Keeping the ball in the air

Early childhood Family & friends High school Primary school Practical parenting

Book Week is coming: four words that can evoke panic in any parent. Visions come to mind of children convincingly dressed as superheroes, sporting icons and princesses, while you’re not sure if your child should claim to be a ghost, an angel or maybe a Jedi knight—a bedsheet can be versatile.

Do you wonder how some parents juggle it all—work, school, home life, and washing, washing, and more washing—and still manage to create a picture-perfect Book Week costume… two days ahead of the parade?

Whether it’s the night before the event and you’ve just read the reminder in last week’s school newsletter or you’ve been swamped with work and haven’t given it a thought, does it sometimes feel like you’re always dropping the ball? Or do you sometimes feel like you never caught it in the first place?

Well, you’re not alone. Every parent has those moments where you feel like you’re the only one who hasn’t figured the whole parent thing out. Comparing yourself to everyone else seems to be part of the human condition, particularly when things don’t go so well. Sometimes these observations can be helpful in learning new ways of parenting, but sometimes they can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety.

Sound familiar? The good news is we can do a few things to reframe our thinking:

Be kind to yourself. Appreciate that parenting can be challenging. Focussing on our strengths can be a positive way to reduce feelings of inadequacy and help us feel more confident.

Be realistic. The list of tasks a parent ticks off every day is extensive and it would be impossible to give the gold-star treatment to each one, let alone be an expert in every aspect of parenting. Setting realistic expectations of ourselves can help to reduce those negative feelings.

Ask for help. Reach out to friends and family for help when we are stretched for time or need support, advice or expertise. Our support networks can be great places to outsource activities we need help with. If things are getting on top of you, a search of oneplace.org.au can help you find support in your local area. Or get in touch with the wonderful people at Parentline for a chat.

So, yes, Book Week is coming, but don’t despair. If costume making isn’t your forte, do your best, then get busy doing the things you can nail: kick the footy with the kids, snuggle up and tell them a great story, or sizzle up some sausages just the way they love ’em.

And believe it or not, someone out there will be admiring you from afar, wondering just how you do it.

Last Updated: 27 July 2021