I often wonder which books I should have read before becoming a mum, what conversations would have been useful, what opportunities I missed to prepare myself for this life long commitment and so in the hope that this may help others I have pulled together the following six things.

1. You can only be a dance mum if your child wants to take dance lessons.  Understanding your child’s needs and regularly meeting them is the key to a healthy connection.  Learning how to parent your child is a unique and lonely experience at times, keep learning from them and keep going. They are who you will spend the majority of your time with, accept them for who they are. They are not here to make you happy. They are not here to fulfil your childhood dreams. They don’t need to dance, just so you can be a dance mum.

2. I was born into a miserable marriage – toxic stress was already in my DNA – being a parent will bring up all of the memories of your own childhood.  Staying together is only part of the story, staying together in an environment where every family member feels safe, seen, heard, and validated is the goal.  Marriage used to be about survival, now it’s also about thriving and that takes a combination of skills that need to be learned and beliefs that need to be upgraded. Regularly. Nothing is permanent.

3. Low Self Worth is created in childhood and it can be upgraded at any point in time with intentional imperfect action. Understanding the root cause of why it isn’t strong is the key.  Treat the root (cause) not the fruit (symptoms, anxiety, depression etc). Explain, don’t blame. You may find yourself addressing your own Low Self Worth, alongside your child’s. 

4. We all have a vagus nerve that needs to be toned by our parents and they didn’t know that, it is not in the red book at birth. Having higher vagal tone means that your body can relax faster after stress and there is a positive feedback loop between high vagal tone, positive emotions and good physical health. By understanding our own vagal tone (high or low) we can tone our own vagus nerve and then model this for our children.  Do as I do, not as I say. Learn how to use the senses our bodies have to translate cues of safety, every day, to allow ourselves to connect and be present even when you think you don’t need to. Even when it’s a challenge. Keep toning. 

5. If you need IVF or you are an older mother the chances are you will be in peri-menopause and you will be so focused on the goal that you won’t have a moment to understand the implications of the hormonal hijacking and lack of sleep on your life and how many years it will take you to recover if you don’t understand. Inform yourself first. Set yourself up for success.

6. Humans are not brains in jars – learn about the autonomic nervous system, gut health and how to change behaviours from the inside out. It isn’t taught in school or by the healthcare system yet. Don’t wait to learn how to help yourself. Don’t waste your time or energy blaming or shaming others, they did their best. This is your opportunity to do better, now that we know better we can do better. Google it.

I read somewhere recently that all advice is biased – so please know that what I am sharing here is not advice, it is my reflections on my life experiences and I’m sharing in the hope that these missing pieces of information help you reflect on what is happening in your parenting journey so that you can create connection and keep creating connections every single day.

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