Phew! For those of us celebrating Christmas and New Year festivities, it is over for another year. Time to take a breath. Or, have you scheduled yourself a campaign of gym classes, de-tox and general self- improvement as part of a New Year resolution?
Many of us have made resolutions we’ve then broken. Research suggests that 23% of people have abandoned their resolutions a week after making them and 43% by the end of January (School of Business, University of Ohio 2023).
To break that cycle instead of creating a list of resolutions for this year, how about checking in with yourself to consider what we need to feel safe and connected in the year ahead? When we feel safe we often stop beating ourselves up as parents because we feel able to manage conflicts and deepen connections.
Checking our own oxygen supply
All of us who are in a parenting and caring role know how rewarding and simultaneously exhausting life can be. We seldom have a minute to check in on ourselves after organising and thinking about our children, planning meals, laundry, witnessing their excitement some days and upset and rage in other moments.
For passengers’ safety, cabin staff on planes demonstrate where an adult will find the oxygen supply and how to fit it. The commentary advises the adults to secure their own oxygen masks before assisting their children, so the adult can be of optimum help to their child. However, within our everyday life our oxygen supply does not neatly appear in front of us when we most need it.
Getting to know our ‘glimmers’
Deb Dana, a licensed clinical social worker specialising in complex trauma and author of “The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy,” describes moments when we feel safe and connected in everyday life as ‘glimmers.’ Glimmer moments such as laughing with a friend or feeling the sun on our face, calm our nervous system and occur when we feel safe and connected to the world around us.
Everyone’s glimmer moments differ, and as with securing our oxygen mask first on an airplane, if we can identify and access our own glimmer moments, we are better able to create a sense of safety and connection for the children in our lives.
Creating glimmer moments through play
Playing a gentle game of Cotton Wool Touch with your child can create quiet, relaxed moments of nurturing touch between you, promoting a sense of trust and felt safety. Playing more energetic games, like Simon Says or Mirroring one another, means your child will feel seen and valued. Opportunities for daft movements and energising actions can create shared laughter and endorse your child’s sense of being a valued playmate.
Choosing and pacing playful activities to suit your child’s and your own levels of energy and tolerance for shared activities, is key to the outcome of playful times together.
Check out Lumin&Us, our Free Play-based App which has a simple scan function to guide you to check in with both your own and your child’s nervous system. It helps you notice whether you are safe, struggling or drowning and then prescribes games to suit you and your child’s emotional state at any given moment.
Here’s to many shared play-based glimmer moments throughout the year ahead.
Peppy Hills is a qualified play therapist who leads Project Salam at Beacon Family Services.
For more information about Beacon Family Service’s Project Salam, contact email@example.com.