This month’s feature blog comes to you from a shamble of a house.  I’ve just moved in and have boxes everywhere.  I can think of a million things I could be doing to get my life in order, but stopping and reflecting on the week that’s passed is more important right now.

If you have been through a separation, then you can probably identify with how I’m currently feeling.  In the past week, I scooped up the remanence of my life into boxes and shifted into a new house on my own.  A fresh start.

You don’t realise how much your life accumulates ‘stuff’ until you have to move it.  I wouldn’t consider myself a hoarder, but I have boxes of ‘I just can’t get rid of’ things.  Baby clothes (this shop is definitely shut for babies, but each of those tiny outfits represented something for me.  Going home from hospital, a first birthday outfit, a christening outfit… the list goes on).  Then there’s the endless photos.  Not just of my kids, but of ME when I was growing up.  School photos, year books, report cards.  School projects.  Special letters from friends.

Maybe I am a hoarder?

A lifetime of collecting precious memories.  A life built making assumptions about how the future would turn out, only to discover it’s a completely different life.  One that was not written on the wall, but in fact was more like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland.

Throughout this period of moving, I ‘ve continued to go and speak to parents at kindies and childcare centres about keeping balance in your life and being kind to yourself.  I’ve stood up and said ‘if we don’t feel right, we can’t think right’-  a quote by Dr Haim Ginott, which I live by.

The truth is, on some of those nights, I didn’t feel right… I was tired emotionally, physically and mentally drained.  I knew that I couldn’t be performing at my best, because my life was so disrupted, and I was feeling a bit out of control.

This might sound like a tale of woe, however there is another part to my message for parents that is designed to dig us out of a hole – and this is how I managed to get through the last couple of weeks.  We need SKILLS… a GO TO that we know will work and we can rely on even when times are tough.  For me, that’s been ‘How to talk so kids listen’.

I knew that even when I was tired, I could engage my kids’ cooperation.  I could authentically acknowledge their feelings when they were upset, just as I authentically shared my own feelings and fatigue with my kids.  I could be objective and praise my kids for the actions they have done, without personally attacking their character.  I could recognise that ‘this too shall pass’… it’s hard now but it won’t be forever.  Tomorrow is always a fresh start.

In the last two weeks, I could draw on these skills and share them with eager and invested parents.  Even though I wasn’t feeling great, this passion of presenting helpful skills with parents has allowed me to park my fatigue at the door and spend one blissful hour talking about the things that I love.

My message in saying this: be kind to yourself, but also equip yourself with some go to skills as a parent.  If you practice and learn them while times are good, they will be useful and effective when times are tough.  When things don’t go well, think to yourself ‘what else could I have done?’ and prepare to change the script for next time.

Each day we get to start fresh.  Next week I won’t need to move to a new house, and I can refocus on establishing routines in my new life.  Change takes time, but it will be rewarding.