You're worried about judgement...
"It’s perfectly natural to be worried about judgement," says Arthur. "We see a lot of the mum who is doing it all, she has the perfectly dressed baby, the clean house and the perfect Santa photo, but that’s not the reality, and we all know that. Parenting can serve up a smörgåsbord of judgement, perceived or real. The most important thing to do is be wary that the way we see the world, affects the way we feel, and how we interpret something that’s been said, might not be how it was meant. It can be helpful to practice tuning into your perceptions and question whether what was said or done was grounded in reality. However, if someone does make a comment that feels unkind or judgey, you have a choice to let it go and remain confident that you are making the best choice for your child because you know them best, or politely inform the person that those comments just aren’t helpful. Tell them that the early years of parenting are really hard, and hearing about the things you’re doing really well with would be much more helpful." This applies to what you feed your kids, how you manage their feelings or actions and decisions you make about letting people hold/kiss your baby (or bump). "Be aware of what helps you, and go to that. We put a lot of expectations on ourselves, particularly if your someone who doesn’t like to let people down, we can be burdened with guilt, but just give yourself permission to not meet everybody’s needs. Also, what we might think of as letting someone down might not bother them at all."
You're worried about family parenting your kids differently to how you do...
"It's safe to say there has been a real shift from more authoritarian parenting that was about stamping out behaviours we don't want to see, to one that is more gentle and places the focus on why a child is behaving a certain way. So the way things are done now can look quite different. If you can, try to share with your family ahead of time how you handle situations and that you'd like them to follow suit. Often your family are going to want to be told what to do.
"You can also be the best teacher just by modelling how you parent," says Arthur. "However, we must accept that we cannot control the thoughts and actions or feelings of someone else. Even though we might want to, especially
when the stakes are so high, it is our kids afterall. It can be a tough thing to swallow, but please, don’t waste your very precious energy on things you can't control. If we let go of what we can't control, we free ourselves to be more
happy in the moment. Unless what they are doing is very unsafe, or very unkind, or really goes against your values, try to let it go. Take comfort knowing that you are the primary care givers and the biggest influence on your children. The way you respond to your kids is the most important."
You're worried about your kids seeing less than ideal adult-behaviour...
"If you know ahead of time, that usually, something goes down with a particular person every year, do your best to make sure your kids aren't aroundfor that, or shield them from it," says Arthur. "You can also ask that family
member not to do that particular thing infront of your kids. If something happens in the moment that makes your kid feel uncomfortable, try to redirect their attention or take them away. The next step depends on your kids' age. If
they are old enough to talk to you about what they saw, then | encourage you to make the space for them to do that. Check-in with them and see if they have any questions about what they saw — we know that making sense of things by
talking can help to contain us. When you can’t put words to something, it can whiz around in your mind and have the potential to be damaging — so provide reassurance for your children, age-appropriate explanations and then reassure
them that they can check back in with you at any point."
You feel resentful about having to travel so far...
Arthur wonders whether this might be part of a bigger question. She asks "Is
this feeling of resentment part of a bigger pattern connected to you
continually feeling as if you're being asked to do something that is more than
what you feel is reasonable? If so, | really encourage you to assert yourself and
to state your needs. This is a common treatment focus for a lot of people in
therapy. Stating what you need is also brilliant for your kids, role modelling for
them stating what you need in a polite, respectful way is amazing for helping
them learn to ask for what they need." Apart from this, the fact is, unless you all
live in the same town, Christmas time usually involves some travel and it is such
an effort, so the feeling might be isolated, but you still need to turn it around.
"Meet thoughts of resentment with the redirection to thoughts that are more
helpful. Think about all the extra help you'll get being with your family, or just
the break from the daily grind of being home, or how lovely it will be to see
your kids play with their cousins. Direct your mental energy to things that are
helpful and try to find things to be grateful for: like having somewhere to
spend Christmas and beautiful children to spend it with."
You're worried about family members over-spending on your kids...
"People have different ways of showing love, and for some that is to make
demonstrative displays with gifts," says Arthur. Often friends and family ask
what they can get your kids, and you should feel free to be specific or
encourage experiences. If those requests fall of deaf ears and you're kids get
given a ton of presents, Arthur says to take pause. "You could resist the gifts
and efforts to spoil, however be mindful that this might feel rejecting and
hurtful for those who have gone to lengths to choose and procure things they
think your little people will love. Or you could lean into it, enjoy watching your
children delight in their new things, and the joy it brings to the givers. You can
take the lead and model how to show gratitude for receiving them. If you find
you've accumulated a huge amount of gifts you can help your children take
them to charity shops down the track, or do toy swaps with kids in your local
You're worried about losing it at family members over the holidays...
“Go into the holidays being mindful of any events that you know might
particularly push your buttons, and go in with a conscious effort to monitor
your thoughts and feelings in those moments. We repeat our patterns and it's
very easy to get sucked back into old roles that might not suit us anymore. So
‘people pleaser’ or ‘trouble maker’. So, have a good think in advance, monitor,
and be ready to hit pause before you respond," says Arthur. "A lot of
interpersonal conflict comes from either not seeing, or not trying to see,
someone else’s point of view. So try and think about that and go into the
holiday celebrations with what's called an observing stance. Rather than
walking into the festivities being the star of the show and* in* the drama,
approach it like a movie, take a step back and watch it unfold, you don’t have
to get involved. It can be quite empowering to have that detached position. If
you do get caught up in the heat of the moment and lose it, know that you
can't think straight. Your emotional brain has hijacked your thinking brain. Try
to hit pause — literally take some breaths, count to ten, give yourself time for
your thinking brain to come back online. If it's too late and you've really blown
it and you really regret it, then when you are calmer, a repair can go a really
long way, for the other person and yourself. Own and acknowledge your
actions that you're not proud of. It can be so freeing, and it’s great modelling
for our kids. Showing them we own mistakes and apologise."
You're stressed about people holding or kissing your baby (or bump)...
“In short, | recommend doing what you feel most comfortable with and
sometimes this might mean keeping baby close to you even if it upsets others.
Also, if someone is holding your baby and you notice their cues for food,
sleep, or wanting to be close to you, then ask for them back so you can attend
to them. Sometimes we worry about upsetting the other person, but trust
yourself that as their mother that you know what they need. Having said that -
and | appreciate that there might be different advice about this - | do
recommend allowing others to hold your baby. For those mums out there who
are worried, know that it's only natural to want to avoid what makes us scared,
but the more we avoid something the scarier it becomes in our mind. Allowing
others to hold your baby not only offers time for you to eat with two hands, but
gives you opportunity to prove to yourself that others can safely and lovingly
spend time with your little one, which will be helpful down the track when you
will inevitably need to have time apart. Babies intuit mother's state of being so
if find you are getting really worked up about this then this will filter through to
the baby. Start with small amounts of time and build from there until you
become comfortable. If it is really stressing you out and preoccupying you, |
recommend getting in touch with someone to talk through any deeper anxiety
that might be underlying it. With regards to your bump; being pregnant is not
an open invitation to be touched or be the subject of public conversation! If
you do not want to be touched, say so and feel happy knowing you've been
able to set the boundaries for yourself”.