An arsenal of silliness weaponry
Updated: Oct 22, 2022
One of the great joys of parenting is the return of silliness to your life. You're suddenly bouncing on trampolines, running through sprinklers, making dens in the forest and having dance parties in the kitchen. Sometimes silliness can defuse a situation too (I have found this also works well with my partner!). Ultimately, we are the parents, and the stresses of life can leave little room for silliness. Of course we would all love to respond to our kids with patience and kindness and silliness, but when we inevitably lose our cool, it brings with it a lot of guilt and disappointment in ourselves.
Miniblog courtesy of @liamgjohnson (stock image)
Tell us a little something about yourself
My name is Liam Johnson, I am a Husband, Dad, Son, Brother, Uncle and Friend. I live in Ballarat, Victoria (Australia). I love my family, my dog, my running and my reading.
How old are your kids?
6 and almost 3
What is your favourite parenting hack?
Being silly and imaginative - my kids are at their happiest when I am at my silliest - silly songs, funny noises, ridiculous games. I have built up an arsenal of silliness weaponry to make time go faster, to get the kids out of the house, to get them them to pick up their toys, to clean their teeth, to eat their dinner....
What do you wish you had known before (either before you were a parent, or when your kids were younger)
It's really hard, hahaha!! I know that sounds really obvious, but I had a blessed childhood and when I look back on it now, it all looked really easy, as if my parents had no challenges and our family sailed through life. My parents raised four kids, on only one average wage, but we wanted for nothing, and I treasure my childhood upon reflection. But now, when I talk to my parents about my life and my parenting, I realise it was really hard for them too, and experiences I am going through, they went through too. And so I think maybe I was not quite prepared for how challenging it would be at times. That being said, I was also not prepared for how amazing it is to be a Dad. So it all balances out.
What makes you feel most guilty as a parent?
When I get frustrated and upset at something the kids might have done, or not done. Almost all of these such instances align with times I am under most pressure with work, or feeling an absence of something in my own life, but my frustration then gets taken out on the children. And that is terribly upsetting, for them and for me. On a number of occasions I have retreated to a spare bedroom, or the toilet, or the bathroom, just to cry - upset at the kids, upset at my inability to maintain calm, upset at failing to role-model how to manage my feelings. And then the aftermath is hours, to days, of shame and guilt, of feeling like I am failing as a parent and feeling fearful of the impact my lack of calmness and resilience has on the children.
What do you find most difficult as a parent?
Remaining calm when the children are experiencing a whole bunch of big emotions and yucky feelings - this is when they need me to be at my most calm, and in the past I have at times struggled to be that anchor for them. It has certainly not been for a want of trying, and I am definitely getting better at this, but I have found this to be a very difficult part of parenting. I have also found it difficult to maintain the special husband and wife bond with my wife. The kids and work and hobbies etc take up so much time in our lives, leaving so little time left for our relationship, and it has been severely neglected at times, sadly. Again, it is a work in progress and we are trying to schedule in more time for 'us'.
What never fails to bring you joy as a parent?
All the little things - my daughter playing with her dolls and wanting to 'help' me to prepare dinner, my son asking questions I struggle to answer and developing friendships at school. Their growth and development as little humans is fun and exciting and surprising, and brings me no end of joy.
*These posts serve partly as therapy for me, and partly in hopes that the words will resonate with you and help build a community of parents and friends that can support each other. Take a look around the website, and join if you want to see more.