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Parent's Guide: Mental Health In Cost Of Living Crisis

04 Oct 2023

Nathan Wallis On How To Improve Your Child's Confidence

Parent's Guide to Mental Health in Cost of Living Crisis

If you feel like you’re struggling to manage family life under the weight of financial strain - you’re not alone! nib’s recent State of the Nation Parenting Survey found that a whopping 93% of households are facing financial stressors, and that for nearly half of all parents surveyed, the main cause of household stress is financial uncertainty.

With everything that’s happened over the past couple of years the concern has steadily grown - from 35% of parents two years ago, to 49% now. Other major stressors included the challenge of balancing work and parenting (44%) and coping with inflation - affecting their ability to manage debt and mortgage payments (39%).

It can feel overwhelming to juggle all of these things while still showing up for your kids and looking after yourselves. That’s why nib’s resident parenting expert, Nathan Wallis, is here to share some advice on how to navigate these troubling times.

Here are his top tips!

The importance of ritual

When things feel a bit chaotic, use ritual and routines to split your family’s day into predictable sections. Try eating a meal together at set times around the table to create a sense of order, or each taking a turn to say what was good about your day. Ritualistic practices like this help create a sense of stability and can help soften the blow of uncertain times.

Child-led play

Engaging in child-led play is where the adult or caregiver follows the child's cues and instructions - let them take the lead! Time spent one-on-one like this can help your little one develop a love of learning, gain self-confidence, and create memories that they will treasure.

It's these connections and relationships with loved ones that release the most potent feel-good hormones, such as oxytocin and dopamine, into our systems. Consequently, this helps counteract the effects of increased stress hormones that parents have experienced post-Covid, and now in the cost of living crisis.

Take a breather

During moments of overwhelm, especially when the kids are adding to the commotion, remember to take a second to self-soothe. Take a few deep breaths and relish the release of those feel-good hormones, which can provide a little boost when you return to the chaos.

It might be as simple as taking a walk to connect with nature, calling a friend for a quick catch up or having a relaxing bath after the kids have gone to bed. By regularly taking time for yourself and your relationship with your partner, friends and family you’ll be better able to show up for your kids.

Shake off the stress

Turn up the music and showcase your unique dance moves to the kids in a family disco. The act of moving your body can boost your mood, and your children's brains will be filled with happiness as they burst into laughter at your "not so smooth" dance skills.

You can do it

Many parents feel like they don’t have the time, energy or resources to care for their kids and look after themselves but it’s really important that parents find ways to look after their own wellbeing and remind themselves that they’re doing their best.

There's no such thing as the perfect parent, but the good news is that being good enough is great. So go easy on yourself. You're doing the best you can, and I'm sure you're doing a wonderful job.