‘It’s fitting that while I gave him life, he gave me mine back too’

Naomi Fryers on why her mental health challenges make her a better mum. 

Like many of us, Naomi Fryers has mental health challenges – but she argues they have helped her become a better parent to her son. Here are the 10 most important things she has learned on her journey. 

Some would argue that a nervous breakdown is not the ideal precursor to mum life.

I prefer the school of thought that suggests anything that ultimately teaches you valuable life lessons about wellbeing, happiness and relationships, is a perfect place to start.

My mental health challenges have opened my eyes and mind in many ways, but most importantly they have opened my heart. All of these have made me a better parent to my young son, who was ultimately my reason to get well.

I think it’s fitting that while I gave him life, he gave me mine back too. The ten most important things I’ve learned from my journey are easily applicable to everyday parenting and I do my best to stay mindful of them every single day.

  1. Feeling, expressing and cultivating gratitude helps curate strong mental health foundations

Let’s be metaphorical for a second, if you are always focussed on a cup that is ‘only’ half full- you will never get to appreciate the fact that you have clean, safe water to drink that is readily available at the twist of a tap. Minor miracles count and showing appreciation for our blessings is a good practice to get into, for many and varied reasons. Perhaps mostly, because ideally we’d like out children to do the same.

  1. Health and happiness should be two of our greatest priorities.

Promoting everyday practices that foster these and make wellbeing a priority is essential self-care. Without health and happiness, we have so little. It will never be selfish to prioritise and nurture your own happiness, wellbeing, particularly as a parent. Join the gym. Make the art. Go for the run. Do the thing. The kids won’t remember the night they toasted sandwiches for tea and went to school with mismatched socks because you were time poor, but they will remember growing up around unhappiness. Which brings me to my next point….

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Did you lose the permission slip and have to send the teacher a last minute S.O.S? Did your kid rock up to school in their sports uniform on normal uniform day? Repeat after me, we are normal. This shit happens in most families, everywhere in the country and probably will forever. Instead of beating yourself up over this… try laughing.

  1. If you cultivate happiness in your own life, you are way less likely to project your crap onto your unsuspecting offspring.

I feel like so many tennis dads I encountered in the northern suburbs growing up really needed to learn this one. If your life is imbalanced enough to stress your kids out over their perceived poor performance at junior tennis… you’d do well to remember, that’s not about them. Easily applicable advice to parenting generally.

  1. Life is not about avoiding adversity, it is about how we learn to grow through our challenges.

This is literally the essence of character building. We can dodge hiccups. Or as I did we can run head first into walls, and turn that into a superpower. Although, to be fair I recommend a more moderate approach.

  1. Freedom of expression and open dialogue nurturing safe spaces for talking is EVERYTHING.

If topics are taboo or off limits, as parents that sends to our children messages of shame. Shame, discomfort and silence is where mental illness festers. Have the awkward conversations. Feel the discomfort and even lean into it. When children open up to you- there is power in that can a healing process work its magic. An open and respectful dialogue in which people can speak freely is one of the most important things we can have.

  1. Everyone MUST get to be their own person.

As parents we get to guide. We get to coach. We get to gently encourage and supply the best tools. The decision-making though, is not ours. I believe it autonomy. Your kids will make mistakes, let them. They will learn from them. They might not choose your preferred path either, and that is ok too. The best bit about life is our uniqueness and diverse lived experiences. No one should ever need to seek out their entire families permission to live whatever their best life means to them.

  1. When the wheels fall off for someone else, the most important thing you can do is be there – with patience, compassion and grace.

Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing to remember is that few are beyond redemption. Affording stoic loyalty, love and understanding can be enough to help someone else turn theirs around. It is possible to breathe love into someone, to help them regain their life. (Shoutout to my husband here!!!) Approach this with a dose of good humour and you are halfway home. Some of us are like glow sticks, we need to really break before we can learn how to shine!!

Originally published on Kidspot at: Kidspot.com

Leave a Comment