09-08-2021 11:47 AM - edited 09-08-2021 01:48 PM
Hello lovely parents and carers,
I think we can safely say that 2021 continues to throw us curve balls that we weren't necessarily prepared for, especially if you're in a part of Australia that's currently living through extended lockdowns.
I know that for my family, the last few weeks have felt especially tough. We've now been in lockdown for around 11 weeks- so we're all somewhat adjusting to the rhythm of working from home, doing home learning for our tween, and trying to find moments of joy and fun in what can be a pretty monotonous time.
There's been times when we are all doing fairly well- we've discovered some wonderful bushwalks in our bubble, have been doing lots of cooking, and spending time in the garden.
But there's other time when we are all struggling.
For our young person, there's a real sense of grief over missing the milestones and rites of passage that won't be able to be marked in the usual way this year- it's our tween's last year of primary school, so things like school camp, school representative sport, and end of year celebrations are now either cancelled or looking very uncertain.
It's also important to acknowledge that everyone's experience is different, for a variety of reasons. I've heard people using this metaphor, and it really resonated with me- we are all in the same storm, with factors completely outside our control changing the way we live our lives. But we are all in different boats.
So, with that in mind, we wanted to create a safe space for parents and carers to chat and connect, and share what's happening for you at the moment.
For parents with young people who are in Year 12, it's an especially challenging time- we're hearing from young people that a lot of them are feeling scared and uncertain about the future, and frustrated that all of their hard work for their final year of school is being done with ever-changing goal posts. But we're also hearing stories of amazing strength and resilience from young people - we recently held this discussion about uncertainty and the future on our Youth Forums with some amazing young people, which I found incredibly inspiring to read. If there's a young person in your life who may like to read it, they can see the whole discussion here:
We also have some great resources on our ReachOut Parents page:
We'd also love to hear from you: how are your young people travelling? Is there anything you're finding helpful at the moment? How are you feeling about the rest of 2021?
Finally, we also wanted to acknowledge something that we don't always talk about: parental burnout.
I know that for me, 2021 has felt like a marathon. Most days I'm feeling OK, but I also often have moments some weeks where I'm exhausted, irritable, overwhelmed, and thoroughly sick of being at home with my family 24/7!
Burnout is something that we talk about fairly regularly in the field of mental health- however it's only more recently that we've seen more discussion of how burnout can affect parents in particular- especially given the multiple types of stressors we are all dealing with in COVID times.
Sophie Scott kindly gave permission for us to share these images, and I have found her writing and speaking on parental burnout really insightful
We also have some great resources on ReachOut Parents all about how to maintain your own wellbeing during coronavirus
I know that I have found building in routines for self care incredibly important for my own wellbeing, and by extension, the wellbeing of my family - it's all about finding what fills your own cup
We would love to hear how you are travelling: is there anything that's helping you to fill your own cup?
We would love this to be a space where parents feel safe to talk about whatever they're experiencing at the moment, from the silver linings, to the moments where it's all a slog. Please feel free to share anything you would like in this space- sometimes even sharing what's happening with a group of (virtual) strangers can help to ease the burden a lot, especially when so many of us are parenting without our usual villages
09-08-2021 01:33 PM
09-08-2021 01:46 PM - edited 09-08-2021 01:48 PM
I love this post and all the resources in it @Janine-RO
I guess the hardest thing for me as a parent at the moment is the sadness I'm feeling for my young people who are missing out on so many important things.
I find myself just wanting to fix it for them, wanting to make it better - and it's tough feeling like this is one of those times where I can't do that, but I can only be there for them through it.
I agree that self care is so important - we have to care for ourselves in order to be there for our young people through this time. Mostly around here self care looks like a hot cup of tea and a lighthearted tv show. I found I started out watching my usual shows (I love sci fi) but they just felt too intense, so now I've moved onto things like renovation shows.
We've also been trying to create opportunities for fun, but it's hard to come up with creative ideas that resonate for us as a family.
I'm really interested to hear how other people are going.
09-08-2021 01:55 PM
Oh gosh @Philippa-RO - I can really relate to what you've articulated there about the sadness we're feeling for our kids- I feel that very deeply some days. I know that we are trying to do the best we can, but there's no escaping the fact that they are experiencing a real sense of grief and loss over the things they're missing out on, that we can't fix for them. I love what you say about learning to just sit with them; I think that as parents we sometimes want to fix problems and make the pain go away - but actually, there's a real power in teaching our kids that sometimes we do need to go through hard things.
I had this exact conversation with my daughter earlier this week - and I realised that she was getting more upset if I tried to look for silver linings, or come up with distractions- in that moment, she wanted me to acknowledge her pain, and sit with her through it
I know that we'll get through this - but some days are bloody hard!
I love what you say about self care- I've also been watching some super trashy TV instead of my usual documentaries/ crime dramas- sometimes you need the TV equivalent of a fluffy blanket at the end of a rough day
09-08-2021 06:06 PM
Thanks so much for your messages. Things in our place are intensified by my acute medical issues which include an autoimmune disease which is immuno-suppressed and I have 50% lung capacity and fibrosis in my lungs. My son has asthma and our daughter also has complex health issues. So, lately I've just been focused on accessing vaccination for them, which has taken writing to our state and Federal members and agitating. I've now got them booked in for next Friday, so that's a huge relief. Our 15 year old daughter is a casual at McDonalds and while we don't have much covid where we live, you don't really know until 2 weeks later. So, this is a huge relief.
Our son was in Year 11 last year and left year 12 the day he turned 17 in March. He was due to go Europe last April on a school excursion. It wasn't something we could readily afford but he's been through so much with my health and was so keen, that we went ahead. It was heartbreaking when it was cancelled, but we got our money back. He had a casual job lined up right when covid hit. It's been hard. I think back to when I was a teenager, and not everything we did was sensible and you could fake your ID a lot easier back then and it's good that's tightened up. However, they've lost out ion so much freedom, and this year's year 12 has lost their formal as well.
At the same time we've had our losses, working from home has freed my husband up a lot to work on our house and we've saved money.
It's definitely been a mixed bag.
09-08-2021 06:55 PM
Thank you for sharing your story about yourself and your family. I can imagine that worry around your health and your children health could be exhausting, especially when you must fight so hard to access to prophylactic healthcare.
I appreciate your compassion for your kid and the difficulties they have had with accessing life events and milestones that we would have taken for granted back then. I know with myself, travelling when I was younger had a big impact on me and I am very thankful for it today.
However, (as grim as this sounds) all other teenagers are in the same boat as your kids at the moment. Everyone is mutually experiencing this deprivation of opportunity somewhat equaling. Therefore, they are not missing out as much as it may seem when we compare them to their peers as opposed to ourselves.
I hope that is some comfort to you when you find thoughts of worry cropping up around their developmental milestones.