Nick Withycombe: Simply put – how do parents cope this year and as we continue? Do we tell our kids ‘well there’s this big world problem that changed everything’, do we say we have worries?
Jessie Pavelka: As parents, as caregivers, anybody that is having to contribute to another human being’s life, you’re in service. A big part of our mind is taken up and our efforts are about the needs of those other individuals.
As all of those questions are amplified, we’re worried about their worry – are they going to be traumatised? So as we’ve said before with worry, it’s always about shining a light on it. Sharing it with another will lighten the load, they can hold a part of it, look at it and work with you to see what the solution might be.
I don’t know about you Nick, but as soon as I let things cross that threshold from brain to mouth to note it to another individual, you get immediate relief, you realise like, okay, this story that I’ve been telling myself that is driven by worry; a lot of it isn’t true. Some of it might be true, but a lot of it isn’t. And, and I think just experiencing that relief gives you more reason to exercise the behaviour of just connecting with another individual. And I think that’s where a lot of the solutions are found.
NW: Yeah, exactly. I mean, something that I used to kind of tell myself or experience with my kids when they were younger, is that the very act of worrying as a parent should be the starting point that actually gives you confidence.
Because the funny thing about life is, sometimes the better parent you are, the more you might worry in the first place. So if you’re worried about it, that just should immediately programme into your mind ‘I’m worried about this, I’m really concerned about this. So that actually gives me the confidence and strength that I am a dedicated parent’. So that’s the starting point.
Like you say, talking with other people just for the first time, let’s you realise that the sleepless night you had about it, sitting there in bed with it going round your head? Like, why the hell did I do that?
JP: I like what you said because I think there’s also a relationship that we can create with worrying; what does it mean? It means you care. It’s like, I’m feeling this way because I care so much. And how great is it that I’m an individual that just wants to do a good job? I think, for a lot of people it also means something really positive. That means that I want to do a good job and that means a lot to me.
NW: The thing about recent months is that there’s something a bit more difficult when the kids did go back to school in the UK. During lockdown we knew that we were all at home, that was that. But then when the kids go back and you’re still working at home, there comes home-time and suddenly it all kicks off, the kids, the dog, dinner time – it all has to happen still during work hours. Even with flexible employers, it still feels like the whirlwind.
JP: We talked recently about, you know, this idea of people loving their COVID lifestyle, right? I think I think for human beings, good or bad, we just want to know what it is. We want familiarity. If it’s familiar, we can live with it.
COVID forced us into a position or routine, where it was different. It was going to be weird. There was a lot of uncertainty. But all of a sudden, we started to make the most of it. There were some really great gifts that were given to us through the COVID lifestyle: simplicity, connectivity, accessibility, all of these things, especially in relation to your kids. They became the norm.
And as we transition away from that, chaos happens, right? Because it’s unfamiliar, it’s new, it’s different. You’ve got to build new routines. Experience transition. There is that moment, a time where there’s chaos, a bit of a struggle, and that’s just part of the process. And you have to live with that, you have to get through that so that it becomes something more familiar and more normal. Two months from now, you would say, yeah, this is what we do now.
NW: Thinking of all the different parenting and well-being topics that there is one thing that came to mind specifically: the weekend, and how now there is no travel, no holiday, so Monday to Friday, you are doing the work and taking care of kids and all of these kinds of things.
And then the weekend comes but somewhere in your parent mind, you still have this idea that you need to have memorable, wonderful family weekends together, because that’s what happens on social media. And it’s kind of the pressure of doing that. It’s just non-stop for parents.
It’s not a complaint because we love doing it but it can be difficult to have a decent amount of time to let your mind just drift.
JP: I think just being able to transition from work mode to parent mode to I need time for myself mode is a skill we need to learn. If you’ve done sports before, there’s those agility drills where there’s a variety of disciplines that you kind of throw into the mix. It’s to get you moving your feet quicker, going from one direction to the next as fast as you can and so on.
I think that when we look at agility in life, inner agility, it’s fairly similar, right? We have to become familiar with our footwork. What does it look like when we’re in work mode transitioning to parent mode, how do we make that transition smooth, so we don’t trip and fall?
I think in real time, it’s not easy. And there’s something around that gap between, you know, whatever role you’re playing, where we have to figure out the tools that we have to create a smooth landing. I don’t know what that looks like for you. I know, for me, breathing is a great thing. I know, making sure that I actually have enough space for transition is another thing that I need. But it’s going to look different for everybody.
NW: Yeah, for me, it was really about just kind of celebrating the standard. Celebrating a standard weekend. Something I tell myself about working from home is that when your kids are noisy, it means they’re healthy. So at least they’re not sick. They’re just doing what kids should. That’s something to be grateful for.