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Resilient Parenting

Using simple tools to find balance and harmony in the home.

With the Easter break just gone and school holidays almost upon us, we thought it would be timely to seek inspiration and solace in a few simple tools that will help all the parents out there be more Resilient, functional, present and (hopefully!), happy.

A large portion of the clients we help here at The Resilience Lab are parents, and many of them come to us because they feel overwhelmed, time-poor and generally rundown. 

If you are a parent, then you will know that some of these feelings and perceptions come with the ‘job’. Certainly, there are always going to be times in your parenting journey where you will be out of your depth, completely snowed-under and tired to your bones.

However, we’re happy to tell you that it doesn’t always have to be this way. 

Moreover, the simple tools we’re going to discuss below will help you immensely during the tough times.

A Common Theme

You are not alone. 

This is the very first thing we tell every parent that comes to study and train with The Resilience Lab. Feelings of self-sacrifice, inadequacy, barely ‘hanging on’ and generalised stress are so common, it has almost become an acceptable mentality that parenting is a right-of-passage that must be endured. 

The way it is commonly described to us is by using the term “burnout”, which is pretty much spot-on. In 2021, Rionda, I. S., et al., writing in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, defined burnout as a syndrome characterised by “emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and a decrease in self-fulfillment” - all things that our clients tell us they are feeling.

Previously, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognised burnout syndrome in its International Classification of Diseases as an occupational condition linked to several health symptoms, such as fatigue, changing sleep habits, and substance use. In their studies, the WHO generally associated this with helping occupations like health care, or high-pressure professions like law or finance. However, a growing body of research suggests burnout can also occur in other roles, particularly with the strain of navigating, balancing and optimising family life.

With all this in mind, our first actionable piece of advice we give to busy parents is to stop, take a moment to look inwards and objectively accept their current circumstances. There is no shame and definitely no judgement in acknowledging that family life is overwhelming, sometimes stressful and often non-stop.

There is a great danger, however, in never acknowledging that things are out-of-hand and ‘just ploughing through’. Some research* suggests there are strong links between different types of parental stress and adverse health outcomes for children. Not to mention the debilitating physical and psychological effects of long-term stress and burnout on individuals. 

In this instance it’s probably easier for us to reiterate our definition of Resilience: the ability to remain cognitive and functional in the face of unexpected challenges. There is nothing in there about ploughing through or grinding it out - quite the opposite, in fact!!

Fix Yourself, First.

All parents know that when their child is tired, hungry, stuck inside and hyped-up, no amount of talking, pleading, bargaining or discipline will fix the imminent tantrum. We all know that the only ‘true’ fix is rest, good food, some exercise and a little time in nature.

So why should this be any different for parents?

Therefore, we highly recommend that in order to regulate your household, you must first regulate yourself.

Anyone that has been reading our regular newsletters will be familiar with the Base-Progress-Thrive we use as part of our training process. With a solid, consistent ‘Base’, you will have a much greater capacity to deal with the dynamics of family life.

Therefore, it is only logical for us that we recommend parents fix themselves first, and tackle their family second. We find that this is best realised by asking yourself one simple question: “How can I possibly expect my child to be calm, flexible and engaged if I am not modelling these qualities?”.

Our second actionable piece of advice to parents is to work on your Base as a priority.

Having said this, we definitely understand that this can often be very hard to achieve in practice…so here’s a few simple implementation tips:

  • Working on yourself doesn’t always have to be done alone! 

A big part of the Base is Time in Nature, Relaxation and Exercise - coincidentally three fundamental things that all kids need! In our experience (both personal and with clients), we have found that parents that are able to build these elements into daily family life are much less likely to experience burnout and feelings of (for want of a better term!), FOMO about missing out on the things they need.

  • Prioritise Sleep

The message here is really simple: choose sleep as an ‘activity’ above all else (especially when you’re feeling burnt out!). Ditch the extra 30mins of Netflix, leave the calming glass of wine and simply head to bed. Life is so much clearer for the rested mind!

  • Model Good

Kids are (much, much) more intuitive than they let on. They are the great watchers, brilliant imitators and little learning machines. Therefore, if a healthier, calmer and more functional family is what you desire, start by modelling positive engagements in key areas of your life such as nutrition, exercise habits and the way you react to stressful situations (see more below on this!).

Work up to the O.A.R Strategy

One of our key teaching frameworks at The Resilience Lab is The O.A.R Strategy. O.A.R stands for Observe - Assess - React  and, essentially, it provides a framework under which we can help people react less instinctually to stressful or changing environments.

Instead, students who learn to use this strategy are able to remain cognitive and clear-headed…even when your kid is rolling around the supermarket floor yelling at you!

However, the O.A.R Strategy is something to work up to, rather than a quick-fix technique. This is why we teach our students the arts of Functional Breathing, Movement and Nervous System Regulation first, before adding small stressors that allow these tools to be safely implemented.

Our techniques are firmly based in science and the research all points to the fact that individuals with Dysfunctional Breathing Patterns are more prone to uncontrollable stress reactions.

If you would like to learn more about these techniques please contact us and we will be happy to get you started! Email:

*Different types of parental stress and childhood obesity: A systematic review of observational studies; Myoungock Jang 1, Brenda Owen 1, Diane R Lauver 1

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