I was on medication for bad anxiety, which made me nervous about joining a parenting group but my mother-in-law had done the programme three times and suggested that it would be a good way to meet other parents. I was quite lonely and *Amanda (who facilitated the group) said that everyone would make me feel comfortable so although a bit unsure I decided to go along anyway.
I am so glad I did. I felt comfortable and at ease. Sharing in the group helped me realise that every parent goes through the same struggles; it’s not just me. It was nice to sit in the group with people who have older kids; initially I thought I might not fit in because my kids are little but to know that others have been through it, helped me.
My boys are close in age and I was struggling with my older son who was being really testing. I didn’t know what to do. In the first session I tried to filter my parenting struggles and then after the second session I just let it out: “My boys are so naughty, someone help me!”
I learnt how sometimes when kids are naughty it’s because they want something. So now when my son acts out, I think: “well, is he hungry or is he tired?” I now know that sometimes children aren’t just testing, they’re just trying to communicate a need and we’re not listening. Now, I think before I react. Before, I’d assume the boys were just being naughty and I’d snap. Now, I try to stay calm, which keeps the situation calm and the boys are more likely to listen. That’s one thing my mum always said to me when I was growing up: “Oh, you need to think before you speak,” and I think I definitely do that now.
Parenting can be very lonely. When I was pregnant and after my babies were born, I lost my friends and my partner is at work all the time so, usually, it’s just me. I enjoyed meeting new people at the programme. Everyone’s so friendly; Amanda and *Matt were friendly and I couldn’t have asked for a better group. Everyone clicked and got along. I think that if anyone wanted to join a parenting group but was worried or anxious, don’t let that put you off (it’s OK!); everyone’s in the same boat and it’s a relief to share your anxieties about parenting. Speaking and sharing made me feel so much better.
The programme also helped me with my anxiety and I’m completely fine now. I think being part of the group really did help me get over it because I was pushed out of my comfort zone. Mental health is a big thing that isn’t spoken about but should be. I hid my issues for a long time; when I had my first son, I wanted to speak about how I was doing – if people did this more (like, in a parenting group, where it’s safe and open) they might realise that there are things that can help.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals concerned.
The attached picture is not a representation of the individual concerned.