What’s the secret formula for resilience? Is it just putting one foot in front of the other and getting to the end of the week?
There’s a lot of focus on resilience at the moment. Kids get taught it in school and people seem to want it. But how do you build it?
I’m not sure, but having done 20 years of childcare for me it’s about just pushing on through and hoping things will get better. Many things in parenting at least come in phases. And, of course, just as you are getting used to one phase, another comes along and throws you off kilter.
So the only way to get through the day/week/month/year is to pace yourself. That may involve getting the worst stuff out the way as soon as possible so it isn’t hanging over you like a cloud of dread; getting some sense of a framework for work and family life with regular things during the week, but something that is flexible enough to cope with life in general; and, crucially, like a Formula One motor racer, allowing yourself pit-stops along the way that you can drag yourself towards – whether that is a regular tv programme, a cup of hot chocolate or 20 minutes with the door closed in the bath.
Getting to the end of the week can seem like climbing Everest at times, but, like a mountain climber, it is good to prepare for the foreseen problems at the very least. The problem is when you spend half your life stressing out about getting ahead because you are anticipating any number of crises and not allowing yourself any time off in case the entire family suddenly comes down with a round of the norovirus and you are behind. As with all things, it’s about balance. Get slightly ahead, but allow yourself some time off, and you are onto a winner.
It’s at this point in the year where people’s new year resolutions tend to fall by the wayside. All those promises to yourself to carve out more time for the family or yourself can go out the window after the inundation of the first couple of weeks back. You lose that sense of some kind of tenuous control that you woke up with on 1st January. It’s very easy to slip back into old ways.
I’m not an organisation person – ask my kids! I never had a five-year plan or any kind of plan. But I have come to embrace, if not an Excel spreadsheet, then some abstract sketch of the week, usually on post-it notes left in strategic locations. Hot chocolate is a regular entry. Only son and I have hot chocolate together once a week and chat about stuff. He says he has been very impressed by Greta Thunberg who appears to be doing good things on climate change and then we talk about asteroids and other galaxies, his concerns about JK Rowling dying and how to play the Harry Potter theme song on the recorder. It’s those conversations – and the hot chocolate – that get me through the week.