Energy Health Inc
moving you forward by increasing recovery
moving you forward by increasing recovery
Why working parent stress is about having more ‘energy’ than ‘time’ and why ‘quick fixes’ don’t work.
Written by Kate Richardson June 2020
What are some of the pro's and con's of being a working parent?

PRO's:

1)  You aren’t isolated
2)  You can provide more for your child
3)  Your life is more balanced
4)  Time spent with your child is precious 

CON'S:

1) You can miss out - milestones, school performances, awards, special events etc both at home    and work 
2) Tired is an understatement - enough said there!
3) Your child doesn’t want you to go
4) You can’t measure up (trying to be an equally good employee and parent at the same time and keeping up with those individuals just doing one of those jobs and not both at the same time!)

Source - news24.com

I love this little synopsis from news24.com. It really does speak to some of the key benefits and pain-points we see in the ‘working parent’ niche, perhaps even more so following the COVID-19 scenario. 

Being a working parent myself, I could add at least another 10 points in each section here, but instead, I want to talk about how with such a tall order, addressing each of those issues or ‘cons’ in turn is a monumental challenge. So what do we do? How do we keep the ‘pro’s top of mind and not get swallowed up by the con’s?

Well firstly we could think of all of the ways that we could start to address them individually, such as
maybe ask our workplace for flexible work hours, join the gym to give us more energy and perk us up, as well as helping to keep the body fat and toxicity under control. Maybe we could spend some money on some kind of tracker or app for nutrition and exercise and see if that helps address some of the concerns. We could do a meditation course, so that we can be more mindful around our kids and learn how to interact with our children better to give them more resilience when we are away. We could do a parenting course, to improve the skills we already have to make us feel like a better parent to our children when we are available to them. Or perhaps up-skill at work, so that we can be seen as more ‘credible’, despite being a mum of four kids. Maybe this will put us in contention with 20 year old Julia in finance who just made it to VP with no kids at home, a penthouse suite in the city and a hubby on a 3 figure salary. Maybe right? But how has that been working? With all these amazing solutions, why is the rate of burnout in humans higher than it’s ever been?

Well these suggested solutions are all ‘fixes’ of one kind or another right? Sort of like a bandaid, they provide some relief to one or two of the pain points and make you feel at least some of the way to improving your situation and thats a good thing. No doubt. But sometimes all these ‘fixes’ do is actually ‘add’ more stress to our already stressed out lives. So how is that? 

Ok scenario 1: Now you have joined the gym and you feel good. You feel like you are moving and at least you are finally accountable for your fitness, but you have been there a few months now and Sandra at the gym you just joined is smashing her PB on deadlift and posting her perfectly honed bod on instagram.   Everyone in the gym is focused on Sandra, giving her the glory and high five’s all around. She is nailing her nutrition and you suddenly feel despite your best efforts, thats unattainable unless you have more time to commit to it.  She clearly doesn’t have kids or a full time job.

Every direction you turn to improve your current state has a demand for you to be ‘an expert’ in that domain, otherwise you are somehow less than. And since you are a person who likes to aim higher, it's normal for you to want to perform well in more than one area of your life.

So another layer of stress has been added and in the end you quit or become inconsistent because its not worth it and on top of that its taking you away from the kids for that 1 hour. And now you can add a nice layer of guilt on top of it because you not only failed at improving your fitness but you now have gone backwards. And thats just one area of your life! It’s a theme we see constantly over and over again. In the end, we don’t even try new things because unless you can keep up with the experts in that area, what’s the point? You will end up regretting you even bothered right? Mediocrity because your new normal and you just accept it, which ultimately is a slow burn on your emotional energy.

So what do we do? How can we stop this ongoing hamster wheel mentality repeating itself over and over with the hope that one day when we retire and our kids are grown up and out of the house (which is 63 yo according to the ABS) we will finally have the time and energy we need to fulfil all of our dreams.  An interesting prospect.

There is another way, however and the cool thing is that we also know from the science and research, that it works!

In our business, we like to look at all of these pain-points from a different perspective and with a different focus, to see if we can’t address all of them with a couple of simple shifts in knowledge, action and focus.

What ultimately sits underneath the concerns, stressors and struggles of working parents is a feeling of general fatigue and low performance, in whatever form that takes. Because regardless of the differences in perception in the workplace, gender, age, time at home with your children, friends and family dynamics, the primary issue is always the same - fatigue.

When you are running on an empty tank, none of those individual concerns and pain points can be properly addressed - literally none. So is it possible then, that the solution, to improving the situation for working parents, is to begin to establish some kind of energy status quo, fuel in not just one component, but in ALL areas of life?

The EHM Stress/recovery balance model above shows how when we look at matching energy in with the same category for energy out (e.g. physical with physical) we get better recovery.  We don't understand why when we have a full on day at work, a massage doesn't relieve our stress.  Mental emotional depletion needs mental emotional re-charge.  And this is just one strategy model in our program.

Unless you are getting to at least a balanced energy state in each of these areas in life (mental, emotional, physical and environmental) then there simply is no room for anything else. We liken it to the computer brain. Once that computer brain is full and your computer memory is at its limit, it can no longer accept any more data until you ‘download’ a bunch of files. The human brain works exactly the same way. In its worse state and it reaches maximum capacity, you are in ‘burnout’. And what burnout looks like is even basic decisions can’t be made. Our primal brain kicks in and we no longer have the capacity to function like the computer that had a full memory a year ago. In fact, our memory gets worse and we experience brain fog. Stress is the next level over, its when your brain is getting close to full. Whichever level you are at, until you find a way to ‘download those files, you are at maximum capacity and nothing more will go in.  You slow down and can't function properly.  This is a mental and physical fatigue state.

What most people don’t realise is that the underlying cause of all of their issues in life, is boiled down to one thing - managing energy. Without gas in your mental tank, you have brain fog. Without physical recovery, you get injured. Without emotional recovery, you distance yourself from connection with others. Without environmental recovery, you retreat to your home. 

Picture this - Scenario 2)

Imagine a day where because you recovered (and planned your energy health) you showed up on a full tank of gas every day to your workplace. You planned and periodised (compartmentalised) your energy so efficiently and strategically that each of those components of your world were full by 9am, so that when you put your foot through those doors of your workplace at 9am on the dot, you are at 100% energy. Thats what high performance life looks. Because you had learned the way to do it and the actions you needed to take, the kids are settled and happy (they get a calm and peaceful parent) you have slept well, you have exercised and recovered your body, you have taken the time to mentally prepare for your day ahead and you have set firm boundaries on how you execute your life, every minute of it. When you show up there is absolutely no doubt in your mind that you are firing on all cylinders. Then when you go about your day with an energy recovery and high performance mindset, you stay at 100% (or very close to it) until the moment you leave. How is that then going to go when you arrive home? The kids and partner get a fully charged energised parent, who is prepped and energetically ready to move into family mode.  You are fully emotionally available because you are carrying nothing from the work day.

There are many factors that assist in understanding how to manage and capitalise on recovery, both at home and in the workplace. For example the simple act of 5 minutes out of every hour to deep breathe (not it's not woo woo, it actually works - we have tested it!), put individuals out of fight or flight mode (primal limbic brain) and back into their thinking (neocortex brain) mode.

With energy strategies and recovery methods in place across all aspects of an individuals life, the capacity for not only sustaining energy, but exponentially improving it in multiple areas sky rockets.
So there is light at the end of the tunnel for us working parents after all but it takes knowledge and mastery. Fatigue and underperformance do not need to be the primary issues in life any longer and those ‘con’s’ begin to transform into opportunities when your battery if fully charged and ready to go.  

 

Kate Richardson - BA/Bsc Energy and Health and Wellbeing Coach


Kate is a master Energy Health Coach and expert on managing energy using Brain Science and Sports Science combined, to find sustainable solutions to working parent stress and Burnout 
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