Kids Matter Director and Clinical Child Psychologist Dr Eli Gardner reflects on being a mum, and what that looks like for millions of women who are trying to parent whilst worried where money for bills will come from or how to feed my children their next meal…
Mother’s day is rolling around again. I will certainly enjoy any efforts my husband and children will make with flowers (possibly) and a special meal (thank you Deliveroo) and maybe some lovely words in a card. But, Mothers day can be pressurising and can highlight family issues. I certainly have spent many a Mothers Day when the kids were tiny in a state of anxiety or tears or both. In spite of being a Child Psychologist (or is it in fact because of?).
I have found parenting my three strong willed, intelligent, remarkable children at times pretty difficult. No theoretical knowledge prepared me for the emotional onslaught of feeling like I was doing it all wrong all the time and it was all my fault.
Not every parent seems to find parenting hard but many of us do and when we are tired, hungry, lonely, poor, stressed or afraid we simply cannot do it well. Without taking care of ourselves FIRST as parents, we won’t be able to give our children the security, love, fun, stimulation, boundaries and protection they need to grow, thrive and become great members of society. So that’s why I am passionate about spending my time building the network of parenting groups around the country, through local church facilitators we train at Kids Matter, to bring hope, community and some self efficacy to parents and carers struggling with adversity.
Trying to parent whilst worried where money for bills will come from or how to feed the children their next meal makes it all the more difficult. It is SUCH an important role that we play as mothers, we are the centre of our baby’s world and remain there for a long time. We need to be in the best possible shape to do this well. Parenting groups are so effective: a place to learn skills and tips, to encourage others and be encouraged, to realise we are not alone and it’s ok we are finding it hard.
For some of us, we naturally form groups with our friends, but for millions of mothers in this country who are alone, parenting without a partner, in a small flat on an estate, Kids Matter groups set in local contexts, around tea and cake with a small group of parents, are a lifeline. One mum recently said ‘I feel like I found my family’. We all need ‘family’, we all need encouragement to keep going and to be told we are good enough. So, let’s be there for one another as mothers. Our job is too important for us not to take seriously what’s needed to do it well
Kids Matter is a programme that engages with families and young children before crisis point – it strengthens families by giving mums and dads the tools to be competent, confident parents or caregivers. To get involved, as a volunteer or by financially supporting our programme, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org