Before her stroke Karen was the perfect mum according to the script that she’d written for herself from her own childhood experience and observing others. Healthy meals made from scratch, kids in multiple extra curricular activities, joining in her children’s games, homework completed, music practice done and school permission slips returned on time.
Three years after her stroke, Karen and her husband separated and their children divide their time between two houses. Single parenting in line with the expectations she had of herself, had Karen at breaking point. She had turned into the strung out, shouting mum she’d vowed she’d never be. Her children were visibly stressed. One day Karen’s daughter asked ‘Mummy, why don’t you smile very much?’
Karen sought medical and psychological advice, hoping for medication or therapy to help manage mental fatigue and sensory overload. Her neurologist gave her the very sound advice, ‘DO LESS.’
It took a lot of soul searching, but Karen wrote a new parenting script involving greater stillness. This is more sustainable for her and her children. The new script says, ‘Let go of the self talk; don’t take on board the judgments and expectations of others; get the rest you need to be positive and constructive with your children; have some fun, laugh and love them, love them and love them some more.’
Now Karen and her children spend an hour in bed together at the end of each day. They watch slow paced, old fashioned movies – Anne of Green Gables, The Railway Children, Little Women, Oliver, The Secret Garden. Karen has one child on each side, giving them lots of hugs. They call this ‘a mummy sandwich’. Things which happen in the movies have Karen’s children asking about ‘the olden days’. Karen talks about her own childhood and what life was like when their grandparents and great grandparents were children. Karen’s children go off to bed (and through life) feeling nurtured, connected and relaxed.
Why not get your child to draw us a picture and record a conversation with them? Here’s how to participate in kidstrokemotion.