While watching an episode of Cityline, I heard Tracy Moore's guest Karyn Gordon, PhD say this line, "Seven percent of marriages are thriving."
Dr. Gordon went on to talk mostly about communication and that being in a successful, thriving relationship takes skills, which thankfully, are ones that can be easily learned.
My immediate thought was that if only seven percent of marriages are thriving, what are parents teaching children about how to thrive, or how to be happy, or how do deal with conflict effectively? Sadly, the answer to that is likely not very much. We can't teach a skill we don't have ourselves.
I do see evidence of this when I coach exhausted, frustrated parents to manage the normal, wild behaviour children have. I should say here that I would have counted myself as one of those exhausted people until I learned how to get out of that cycle. Many families are tackling more and more which taps people out.
So how can a person, a marriage, and a family thrive?
This is a big topic so rather than try to address it in one short post; I will suggest resources to help the areas you would like to improve.
Increase your enjoyment of being a parent.
If you do not enjoy being a parent, consider why that is. Do you have an energy-filled, tantruming toddler? (If so, I suggest this article "Thriving With A Toddler") A drama queen or a wild child? Or hormonal, angry teens? If you are not enjoying the stage your children are in, learn more about that stage and how to connect with your child no matter how frustrating they might be. I continually post free suggestions on how to do this on my facebook page.
Learn how to be the parent you hope to be.
It is possible to raise lovely, happy, confident, and well behaved children without spanking them, shouting at them, or threatening them. It takes knowledge and skill to do this. Being hard on your children is also hard on you. Again, I will refer you to my facebook page where I post book suggestions, tips, and upcoming workshops by myself and colleagues to learn these skills. A great book on this topic is PEACEFUL PARENT, HAPPY KIDS by Laura Markham, PhD.
Learn how to deal with conflict effectively.
Learning how to be angry and how to communicate that without hurting ourselves, others, or property takes knowledge and practice. It feels so wonderful to be in a relationship where you can feel really, smoking angry and know that you will calm yourself down and be able to articulate that—and be heard! I'd say learning these kinds of communication skills has significantly increased my joy in life. If you are looking for a resource for that, I suggest the book WHAT MAKES LOVE LAST? by John Gottman.
Consider what you need.
Take quiet moments with a piece of paper or talking to yourself in the shower to consider what you need. Journalling is a wonderful way to continually check in with personal needs. At the top of a fresh piece of paper, write "In order to feel great, I need..." and write down what comes to mind. Make sure you don't censor your writing--no one will be reading it! Turn that brainstorming into a to-do list. Which of the needs you identified can you do something about?
Reduce what is making you exhausted.
In my opinion, being rested is the number one thing a person can do to improve parenting and quality of life. Consider if your schedule, to-do list, expectations, busy children, or night-waking children are making you feel exhausted. Also, people can feel exhausted when they are continually frustrated. Thinking about things that aren't getting done, that you wish you could do, or say to someone else, can be draining.
If your schedule, to-do list or expectations are tiring you out, I suggest reading FROM FRAZZLED TO FOCUSED by Rivka Caroline.
For busy young children, realize that raising little ones is a marathon. It does take helpers (babysitters, friends, family) to get through this period intact. If you have older children and are racing around to all their activities, really consider which ones are valuable and which are not. Children can get stressed as well if they have too many activities. Decide which ones your family feel are important and which ones can go. Family meetings are a great way to continually check-in with all family members to see what needs to be improved, and how.
There is no need to be continually kept awake by children after they are done night-time feeding. Your sleep is important, and boundaries to get that sleep are VERY important. If you would like a hand with that, I recommend sleep expert Alanna McGuinn at www.goodnightsleepsite.com.
If thinking is tiring you out, consider learning how to meditate or do yoga. Both are known to calm a busy mind.
Deciding to get out of survival mode takes action, perseverance, and some help.
Having made this shift myself, I encourage you to take the time to consider what you need to feel better—to feel that you are thriving. You can do it! Thriving parents raise thriving kids.