Behaviour & Emotions Health & Well-being

Goodbye surviving, hello thriving – the simple secrets I’m learning

Goodbye surviving hello thriving

Unless you’re fortunate enough to live completely off the grid, most of us can relate to a growing sense of feeling overwhelmed as a parent these days. The irony is we have never been more resourced. We’ve got information, research, entertainment, programmes, products, groups, clubs, events, education and options coming out our ears and yet still find ourselves in a slump about whether we’re getting it right.

Between work, life, kids and the constant barrage of research telling us what we should and shouldn’t be doing, has our time-poor and pressure-rich culture created the perfect storm? Are we just so darn busy being awesome that we’ve forgotten how to kick back and actually enjoy our kids?

I’ve been learning a few (very) simple ways along the way to move from overwhelmed to regaining confidence again....

Be not do

Parenting is not rocket science. We already have what we need to parent well, because parenting is about being, than it is about doing. We’d been parenting successfully for centuries way before the experts moved in and told us how it is done.

By tapping into our heart and simply being present with our kids, we really are most of the way there. Making ourselves available to hang out with our kids, tuning into their opinions, encouraging their efforts, picking them up and dusting them off when they fall, staying calm in the face of their frustration. These things cost nothing and are the super highway for parenting well.

Less is more

Despite parenting being a big business, what most people won’t tell you is that when it comes to parenting, less is definitely more. Less stuff to own, less commitments squeezed into the calendar, less apps on the tablet, less words, less options for dinner, less, less, less.

The endless options of just about everything has cranked up the pace of life to fever pitch and has created a frenzy of activity in every direction. Breathing in contentment and breathing out resentment gives us the space to slow down and simplify things to enjoy what is in front of us instead of racing to the next best thing.

Don’t buy the hype

It’s real easy to buy the hype that great parenting looks like perfectly compliant kids. But perfectly compliant kids have often just learned to jump through hoops just to stay out of trouble or to please us. Jumping through hoops works out well in the short-term but might not serve our kids so well further down the track.

Giving kids ample time and the freedom to make and learn from their own mistakes is another super highway for parenting well.

Get back to basics

We all have some pretty basic biological needs which have not changed in a really long time. These needs are pretty straight forward like air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, love, safety and sleep. It’s really easy to snub these time-worn essentials for the dazzling appeal of modern ‘necessities’ like Nike, Instagram, Netflix and Burger King.

Don’t be fooled, despite how our species has evolved technologically over the last few decades, we’re still pretty dependant on getting the basics right. Paying attention to these basics is another super highway of parenting.

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Reach out

We might be drowning in friends on Facebook and likes on Instagram but most of us are aching for the voice of a friend at the end of the phone asking us how we are doing. Our frenetic online social activity does not touch the sides of our need to truly be known, loved, accepted and connected.

Tapping into our real life community, extended family and friends, getting off the couch and connecting in real time means that we get a break from doing relationships in 10-second time blocks and can indulge in open-ended two-way conversations.

Hug a tree

Okay, don’t actually hug a tree. That’d be weird. But do get out of the house and go somewhere where you look up at an open sky and tap into the life force that surrounds you. Soaking in nature (which in this country is pretty easy to get to) melts away stress because it helps us to feel connected to our environment and part of something that is bigger than ourselves and our worries.

So try it. Take a trip with the people you love to the local park, mountain, forest, river, lake or beach, and reconnect with the earth and the sky. They might whinge and moan at the time but take a photo because they will thank you for it later on.

In a world of regular work-from-home, remember to step outside. Build nature into everyday - step outside your four walls, breathe the fresh air, walk the dog, look at life in your neighbourhood, and say hello to someone on the way.


It costs you nothing and is one of the most powerful tools on the planet. When we’re not listening to our kids, they need to work harder and harder to get our attention. As they get more demanding, we get more resentful and round and around we go until we’re all grumpy and exhausted.

Instead of relying on telling and shouting, try asking and listening. Listening well requires focus, eye contact and lots of small words like, “Yep”, “Got it”, “Okay’, “I’m listening”, “That sounds tough”. Listening requires practice and patience but is probably the super highway of all parenting super highways.

Jo Batts

Jo Batts

For Jo, relationships are at the heart of whānau. She’s a counsellor, a strengths coach, a parent and a partner. Jo's down-to-earth approach helps people to develop the practical tools to build healthy relationships for everyday life.

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