Whanau life and all it entails

Joanne Te Paiho, September 2010

From taxi service to teacher, nurse, cook, gardener, cleaner, you name it, as parents, we all play these roles and more, and it can get really tiring at times. Our roles within our whanau are busy enough and then we may also have the added role of going outside of the whanau home, to hold down a job. We are also supposed to find some ME time, in amongst all the madness. This may all work okay if there are two adults raising children and keeping it all together but when there is just one parent, this can become incredibly tough. I know just how tough it can all get because this resembles parts of my own life, which has lead me to wonder how others might cope in the same predicament. Being a Counsellor I supposedly have all the answers - but newsflash, I don't! I'm just as human as all my other fellow parents that I walk alongside. Although I might know that it's important that we as parents look after ourselves so we can parent from a wise place, sometimes this can all just turn to custard, no matter how well we are caring for our own needs. And I'm certainly not saying that single parenting is always tough, as there are some real joys along the way too. I'm just talking about the tough times. So what might we all need and what can we do to lighten the load, during these challenging times.

Taking a step back from your life for a moment and reassessing what's important may be a first step. Taking a look at where you are investing your energy and time and ensuring that it is being spent wisely is also really essential. This is especially so if you work outside the home. Your children will need you to conserve a little time and energy for them when you finish work. Looking within your extended whanau to seek support with your role as a parent may be helpful. Your children will have many people around them that want to love and care for them, so allow them to do this. You do not have to be super Mum or Dad, and it is a real strength to ask for help, not a weakness, as some may think. Maybe I thought like that in the past, as I thought I could be super Mum, and I could do it all on my own. That was more my pride talking and not the reality of my situation. Letting go for just a moment and allowing someone else to care for your children, is a really liberating feeling - have a go.

In closing, being a great parent doesn't mean you have to go it alone. Reaching out for support is essential and a huge part of being able to parent well. Remember the old proverb about it taking a village to raise a child? Well, there is some real truth in that.

Nga Mihi