How to navigate family dynamics during lockdown?

Last week I did a You Tube video about family dynamics as it has been interesting during lock down (to say the least)!! I have been struggling with the length of time the kids were spending on devices and watching TV but was reluctant to add any extra stress to the situation so I needed time to think and reflect and when I noticed the kids not being able to concentrate on their school work, becoming bored when not being so stimulated and being really cheeky to each other I had to step in but what I hadn’t admitted to myself was that it suited me/us.  It was making life easier on us because we needed to adjust too and you know that is  OK so I won’t beat myself up as I am addressing it now…..What this situation needed was some balance not more chaos in the form of strict structured rules but I had to actually deal with the ‘elephant in the room’.

To do this I reflected on my own childhood, we had one TV with 4 channels, no phones and not much else and I never felt that I didn’t have enough…(well I was annoyed eating yellow pack crisps but was told to suck it up which is frankly what I need to do more of so thank you mum)….I remember wanting a Mr Frostie machine at Christmas and mum said no because of the sugar, we were not allowed sugar, real butter and the ‘proper’ biscuits as they were kept for my dads lunch so as soon as I got my pocket money I spent the whole lot on sweets.  It that old adage….’when we are told we are not allowed something we want it even more’ but now as a mum I understand why she did that because she loved me and she understood health being a cook.  I remember asking for a shell suit and she wouldn’t get me one because everyone else had one and she wanted to teach me that it was ok to be different but I wanted to be like everyone else, I wanted what all the other kids had, to blend in.  I wanted that Barbie house and the Barbie cars but we couldnt afford them so I used my imagination and my dads shoes became the cars, I used books as sofas and bottle tops as tables because I had to.  My mum said I used to play for hours on my own and talk away to my toys, I used to make potions up with btls and glitter and feed them to my dolls to make them better, I used to play teachers with my brother…all the things I love doing now with my oils and in my mentor group….There is a beautiful thing that happens in children and in adults (if we allow it) WHEN WE GET BORED WE CREATE but we need to fully go there first.

I want to publicly THANK MY PARENTS for these beautiful lessons & experiences because they have taught me a good work ethic, they have taught me never to give up easily, to appreciate things but not get too attached, they have taught me to be humble and treat others the same, they have taught me the value of things and how we don’t really need stuff and it’s why when my mum says to me ‘you just say your going to do something and you just do it’ it is true but she didnt realise is that she and my father played a major part in WHO I AM NOW.  I have spent many years connecting and healing my inner child and now I am peace with them and myself knowing that everyone was just doing the best they could and all just just playing this role for my soul’s growth so I could experience so much in this lifetime.  We need to feel the lows and the highs, to experience duality in it’s fullest to really HEAL.

What I have done all my life is give my kids all that I never had because I could, because I worked so bloody hard to provide for them so they wouldn’t miss out and what I have realised during this lock down is I am not serving them, I am failing them, I am teaching them to suppress their emotions and not deal with life…every day in life a lesson unfolds.  They need to be allowed to feel, argue, fight, scream, cry, fall out with us, with themselves, with their siblings to learn tools about how to deal with life for when such times as we are not there and they have their own bills to pay and family to look after.  I knew taking all the devices away wasn’t the answer either as that was the other same extreme on this pendulum of balance which is what I feel we all need more of in our lives right now.  Our kids now are the future and the future is technology, the future is on line and they will run the world some day, it’s the way it is so I have to accept it but what I can do to talk and explain to them the affects on the body with over usage, what an addiction is and how it can run your life…how yes this small thing that looks so innocent right now could end up be the one thing preventing them from playing and being present with their children when they are older or from staying in that job that they hate because they haven’t got the skills to feel free and explore other options.

So when Monday morning came and they were all grumpy, were unfit when we went out for a bike ride and were literally screaming at each other over who would fill the water jug I made a decision.  I sat them all down and explained why I was limiting TV watching, Nintendo and phone/ipad/kindle devices for a while to see if we could all find ourselves again.  I discussed how the screens affect our eyesight, our hormones, our brain cells, our mood, how it stimulates them so much that it’s why they are struggling to concentrate and are snapping at each other because their attention span is so low.  Ava (our eldest, age 11) didn’t like it but the other two were fine (age 7 & 8) and that day, well lets just say I struggled….the house was so noisy I wanted to literally run away…I cried under the covers of my bed because they were playing outside, running around the house, making games up with stuff they found in nature, laughing with each other, listening to each other but it was so friggin noisy and this bit I hadn’t anticipated but then I remembered this was childhood.  They had released so much pent up energy in those 4 hours that I was glad that our only neighbours are cats and I’m sure even they were concerned about what had descended lol but you now what I survived….It was literally like a detox for them.  My eldest is actually the only one that has a phone and a couple of years ago I sat down and had the talk with her when her mood and health plummeted so she manages it quite well but then my husband decided to get them all TVs in their bedroom at Christmas,  of which I wasn’t happy about but I let it go as mums I feel we let so much go when we really need to speak up…we hold everything in as we lack this trust in ourselves and want to make everyone’s life easier but it backfires.  Yes my eldest, Ava was managing her phone well, in fact she was getting so creative with fashion design and acting on Tik Tok I was well impressed but she then transferred the suppression into  her TV watching.  She was so upset about this lock down as it started on her birthday as she misses school and her friends so much so I needed to help her find new ways of expression.  I talked to her about the importance of exercise and diet and yes she huffed a bit as I had to bring a little control in to get her attention but then she made her own choices and started looking up meal ideas, she found a yoga channel and Zumba dance exercise on You Tube…sometimes they need a little steer and some ideas just like riding a bike when you take the stabilisers off but then watch them fly.  It’s the same with husbands by the way but thats an whole other blog post lol!! She now comes and sits with me staring so we cuddle, she plays music and dances, is she bored…hell yes but then I take 5 mins to suggest something and explain how its not as entertaining but the hard part with any habit is starting and you need to keep repeating it to feel the pleasure in the body.  The main part here is also what we call ‘monkey see, monkey do’…many weeks ago I recognised my TV watching and phone surfing was really affecting me and my health as I wasnt sleeping, was having a wee glass of wine most evenings and then came the snacking as I tried to do this ‘chilling out’ thing.  My parents and their parents before them bought the TV times each week and circles what they were watching from 6pm each night…yes they never had a phone but I watched that as a child how this little box made them happy so of course I wanted one when I was older!  I love the TV and I love watching movies as there is so much symbolism in it for me in my work and navigating life but when it’s overused that is when it is a problem and becomes an addition so it needed brought into balance.  Not taken away as that literally doesnt work for me as I am a rebel, tell me not to do something and I will do it so of course my kids would react the same.  That night Ava came to me with her laptop in hand and asked could she present her case to me.  I secretly smiled as I thought, good on you girl.  She presented the pros and cons, she presented her own rules and the other two watched and I had a wee tear in my eye as this is what I want her to do in school and later in in the workplace…challenge authority, build her case and never ever give up when something is important to her.

I was proud of her for challenging me, for not giving up on something she loves, for listening to me, for understanding that what I did was based on love so I agreed to her rules.  We are into day 3 and they are getting on much better, they are being kinder in their words and tone with each other, they are playing together more and are going to bed earlier….PEACE at last lol..well for now until the next time as they will be a next time and its important to address it.  We may not have all the tools straight away but we can listen, learn, read books…a great conscious parenting book that I highly recommend is by Dr Shefali Tsabary called ‘The Awakened Family’ she is also very active on facebook helping many during this lockdown.  This is a quote from her book “When children aren’t given the space to assert their authentic voice but are drowned out by the roar of our parental agendas they grow up anxious and depressed”

It’s not easy raising strong children, times are changing and we need to adapt and learn new ways but we can still keep the traditional values and way of our ancestors alive to be passed down through generations…playing board games ( I have now realised why they are called ‘bored’ games lol), reading, painting, connecting with nature, baking has all been revived in this household during lock down.  Many of you probably do this anyways and I salute you but if anyone is reading this and like me have struggled with this parenting malarkey don’t be so hard on yourselves, find that balance, talk to them, listen to each other and find a way that works for everyone….there is not right or wrong and I am stilling working this out myself as this is what had worked for me so find your own way, our kids are our greatest teachers but they also need us to be captains of the ship and steer the family in the right direction.   Much love to you all during lock down, Leigh xx

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