Who’s more worried, parents, children or both?
The build up to having a child is exciting, lots of shopping, putting your feet up, preparing the nursery and scrutinising different names. Then there’s excitement about the big event, some worry about it, only natural. When it arrives, you think about nothing else, just breathing your way through it, maybe taking pain relief and for some, swearing and shouting at your other half!
The baby is here; you don’t care that it cries, in fact you think it’s a cute little sound. You set off for home and quickly settle into a routine, generally consisting of changing nappies, feeding day and night, cuddles - lots of, sleeping and feeding yourself in-between wanted, and unwanted visitors.
Without realising it the sleepless nights pass, for some quicker than others. Your child’s personality starts to flourish, they develop well, reach their milestones and you enjoy their company. Then for some the sleepless nights creep back in, this time for very different reasons.
Some mothers choose to or must go back to work, careful childcare arrangements are considered and put in place. Whatever the reason for returning the thought fills parents with guilt, how will your child cope without you? What if they can’t settle? what if they don’t like it where you have placed them? After a while this becomes routine and sleep returns. The routine of work/life balance passes by for many without issues, however for some parents it’s just filled with worry, but it’s different for mothers and fathers.
For some parents, worry might be about getting the next promotion, that’ll bring in more money to make family life more pleasurable, you’ll then book family holidays without worry and buy children Birthday and Christmas presents with financial worry. Maybe there’s a threat of redundancy, the current climate is fragile so you try to do everything you can to make sure you keep yourself in an ‘indispensable’ position, even if it means putting in extra hours.
For mothers returning to work, their worries are very different. They may feel they need to ‘prove’ they’re capable of being a working parent, juggling the childcare, hoping you won’t have to take time off if your child’s ill, will having children hold you back from promotion. You worry you might have to work late and juggle the childcare; you don’t want to appear to be getting preferential treatment.
As the years go by surely it gets easier, you send your child to a lovely school, they’re not falling behind, they go to breakfast and after school club, they have their weekend activities, and as you have a good salary you can treat them to everything they need and some of the treats they want. There’s nothing for them to worry about, or is there?
Sometimes as parents we’re so focused on getting everything right around the family, that we might forget to look within. Those little changes in behaviour you thought were just a ‘phase’ may have settled into regular behaviour, but you were too busy worrying about other things that you missed the signs.
Some children are worriers, but often parents don’t see the signs. Children are good at covering it up, they believe their parents will think what they’re worrying about is silly, and they often feel embarrassed for worrying about small things. Some children believe their parents are too busy to listen to their worries or, their parents have enough to worry about and don’t want to add to them.
So, what can you do to keep communication open with children?
Make time to sit with them, listen about their day, ask some probing questions and look out for slight changes in attitude or behaviour, eating habits or feeling ill patterns, offer digital devices for regular communication links.
Like adults, children love technology and although there is an old debate about should we let children engage with it or not, tech isn’t going away any time soon. You can introduce your children to safe and secure platforms that offer reliable advice and notifies parents about anything that worries them. It’s natural that parents are busy and sometimes don’t notice their children may have some extra worries. Apps like The Worrinots can be a useful tool to help with family communicate and resolve issues, giving parents peace of mind their children can feel at ease communicating their worries, even when parents are at work.