Space for parenting

Two-thirds of working parents reported feeling too emotionally or physically drained when they got home from work to contribute to their family.

2019 National Survey of Working Families - Parents at Work, Advancing Parental Leave Equality Network

How is it that our lives have become so full that, when we get home at the end of the day, there is no space for those we live with?

What if we consider the body as a car, how are we running it? Is our foot flat on the throttle all the time, revving like crazy in ‘sport mode’ or could we consider there being a more settled way to drive that offers more space, perhaps we could call it ‘eco mode’? We have all felt that different way of driving.

One burns out your engine and your fuel, the body feels full and ‘busy, busy, busy’ but you never seem to get to the end of the list, there is certainly no space, moreover, it feels like you are running around like a chicken without a head…

The other is more honouring of your engine. ‘Eco mode’ uses the fuel in your day to complete what is there to be done. It is a much simpler and richer way of living life.

We are not in ‘eco mode’ though so the challenge now is – how to get home on your reserve tank – in sport mode - when there is no petrol station on the horizon - eeeek

No wonder, at the end of the working day, it really feels like there is no space for anything or anyone else and all that is left to take home is the dregs of a nervous system that has been running on overdrive all day.

The tell-tale signs of running our vehicle, our body, in ‘sport mode' have actually always been there if we had the space to look. Perhaps the amount of sugar and caffeine that has been demanded by the body to 'keep up' and keep your head from taking a nap on your keyboard was one of those tell-tale signs but the ‘busy, busy, busy’ of ‘sport mode’ meant you didn't stop to see the head nod to the keyboard because your hand was too quick to grab the caffeine or sugar pick me up.

When we consider how that is so normal across our workplaces and society in general, is it any wonder that two-thirds of working parents feel there is no emotional or physical space for parenting when they get home at the end of the day?

Honesty is really valuable here. Honesty about what we have taken as our normal and seeing that we are the only ones that can step away from that mode, shift our gear, change our focus, and realise that ‘sports mode’ is not it. From that honesty, there can be a sense that there is more to life than this way of running our bodies into the ground. Photo by Erik Mclean from Pexels


Further reading

We don't live in isolation

Learning is an on-going process

The basics of communication

Falling in love with appreciation