AAaaaaargh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, just had to get that off my chest. I’m so DONE with parenting right now. I can’t even think straight, I’m so very, very done.
I know you get it. You’re reading this article, for a start. Plus you’re the parent of an older kid. You’ve been down this road, I know you have.
Maybe it’s your 10-year-old who is rattling your cage. Or your five-year-old. But, most likely, for you to get to the point where you are shouting from the rooftops (like me) “I am done with parenting, ALL OF IT”, then it’s your teen who’s looking to bury you.
Right now, my eldest is breaking ground. Or breaking my heart. Either way, things are really grim for us at the moment. I can’t go into detail (it’s his story to tell, yada, yada), but I can tell you that I’m hurting and it’s hard and it SUX sometimes to be a parent. SUUUUUUUX.
Even though we love them forever. Even then.
Nowhere to run to, baby
When I’m done with parenting in the way I am right now, I just want to run away and hide from the kids. It beggars belief that it’s up to me and the hubby to raise these terrors into something society will want to keep. Especially when their own mother wants to throw them back in.
Gah! It’s soooooo very lonely when you’re hurting as a parent, isn’t it? Our friends want to help (they really, truly do), but every problem is unique to each child and family, so friends are often as clueless as you are. That plus their relief that it is NOT THEM THIS TIME is screaming at you, even though they are trying to be very quiet about it. We all do the quiet relief thing; we don’t mean to, but we do.
Here’s the thing: 10 reasons why mums stop talking about parenting
Yup, I know you get it. Every part of you wants it to be NOT ME THIS TIME, but look, here you are. It’s you.
For me, it helps to have a little roster of strategies that I can pull from when I’m literally coming undone at the screams (children are exhausting). Here are a few that help me, that I hope help you, too.
Onwards, mums, we got this. We bloody well have to got this. Just gotta love ’em through it.
Helpful things for when you’re done with parenting
1. Put yourself first
I’m not going to mention ‘self care’, because it always conjures up nail polish and bubble baths and that would just send me bonkers right now. No, instead I’m talking about properly looking after yourself by (a) disengaging a bit from the situation and (b) simultaneously standing up for yourself.
Two very important things to note here:
- You are NOT a bad parent just because your kid tells you that you are. They don’t even believe that themselves, so don’t go thinking it’s true. Kids yell the stupidest things when they are hurting, just so they can make you hurt more in the mistaken belief that it will make them hurt less. So don’t buy into it. You’re a good parent, you’ve raised them well, they are just going through some shitty stuff right now and you will find your way back to each other in time. Repeat after me: NOT A BAD PARENT.
- You get to ignore your kid and #1 above is still not true. Look, every now and then we get so beaten down by these ridiculous prefrontal cortex-challenged people. They make no sense, they endlessly contradict themselves, yet they are up for an argument any time of the day or night. Awful, really. So take a step back, refuse to engage and go and read a book for a while or something. Totally okay to lock your door.
2. Seek support
We cannot be all things to our children. Sometimes we need to call in the experts to help them through life’s challenges. A great place to start is Headspace (hopefully there is one near you). It’s a safe space for your kid to talk to someone neutral about how they are feeling, what they are dealing with and why they hate their parents so much. If Headspace isn’t available for you, check in to see if your child will go see the school counsellor.
Thing is, a lot of kids are not open to getting outside help, and there is not a lot we can do to ‘make them go’. They won’t go, end of story.
It that’s the case, you may like to seek some support to bolster your parenting efforts, or just feel better in general. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone to offload the offspring’s toxicity with. A psychologist or counsellor can also help you with new strategies to keep the lines of communication open with your child. Go see your doctor for a referral to the right person for you.
3. Take in the whole picture
Parenting is a part of our life, it’s not our whole life. When the chips are down and we are done, it pays to remember that more than ever.
Focus on something other than the kids for a while. What do you really enjoy doing? Do more of that. Who do you love talking to? Talk to them a lot.
Reconnect with your other half and spend extra time being together without the children. That’s the beauty of having older kids – we get to go and leave them when we need to. They can take care of themselves while you take care of yourself. It works a treat.
Well, der: Happy people raise happy kids
If you are struggling to find your feet away from parenting, it helps to write a list. All the things you are, all the things you love, all the things you do and all the things you hope for. Write it all down and enjoy thinking about yourself as someone other than ‘muuuuuum’. You are a whole person, raising your kids to be whole people: keep this in mind always.
4. Try something new
Remember the mantra that if something isn’t working, you need to try a different approach. Don’t keep banging your head against a brick child. It only serves to make your head hurt.
Instead, think of a different way that you can tackle the issue you are facing. There are loads of resources right here on Mumlyfe, or search for strategies that relate exactly to the problem at hand. There’s always another way, there’s always hope.
5. Go outside
My life would not be half as good as it has always been without my favourite mantra: go outside. It worked when my kids were babies, it still works now. Go outside and I promise that while your problems will still be there, you’ll feel much stronger to manage them.
It means taking myself out for a bushwalk to gently unwind; into the garden for a bit of hard work; or just out for a cup of tea on the back deck when the morning has already started off a bit mental. Outside, things are calmer, brighter and, hopefully, full of perspective. I might be done with parenting forever, but suddenly I realise how temporary forever actually is.
Being outside works for my children and our relationship too. There are not many problems that haven’t been soothed by a trip to the beach. And nothing beats ‘walking and talking’ in nature as a balm for troubled souls. Outside catches your sighs and gives you space to think.
6. Send them away for a while
You may need to read point 1 above before we go any further. You are not a bad parent for wanting a break sometimes. In fact, some extended space can be just what both you and your child need to get back on track together. I spent a few night in the wee-small-hours googling things like ‘Jackeroo school for teens‘ and ‘wilderness retreats for teens‘ and ‘remote boarding schools’.
In the end, booking my child in for a weekend with my parents down the coast was the best strategy. He had some time away from us and we from him and things were slightly improved on his return. We are looking to make it a regular thing as my parents really loved having him to stay. Win, win.
7. Buckle in
Sometimes in life, we just need to get the hard things done. Of course, parenting is hard emotional work a lot of the time, but sometimes we feel strained beyond our capabilities. This is the time to do all of the things above, no doubt about it. Take care of ourselves so we can best take care of our children.
But these troubled times are also the time for stoicism. We just need to buckle in, grip in the hand rail and endure. By this I mean endure with love, compassion and openness. Even harder than we usually do.
Yes, it feels almost unbearable to have the same conversations/fights over and over. It may be almost untenable to watch our children do the same dumb things over and over. Yet we must. When our children reach out to us, even in anger, frustration and hate, we need to be there to listen.
We must listen harder, make ourselves more available, quieten our instinct to correct and expect. We need to be present and we need to remind our children – and ourselves – that this, too shall pass. And when it does, we will be here, perhaps a little broken, but mendable. Ready to guide them through whatever comes next.
What do you do when you really feel done with parenting?