Nobody mentioned this! They all talk about the joys of parenthood. Sometimes they talk about the emotional delights. Occasionally they talk about the emotional struggles. But nobody mentions the physical challenge, the sheer hard physical labour of parenthood.
The initial joy of parenthood is past – they were exciting times, whether we greeted them with trepidation (which is what we did!) or with confidence (which is what we imagined everyone else was doing). There were all those new skills to learn, from changing nappies, to constructing a cot, to using a baby car seat, to working out how on earth a baby sling ties up safely.
But after a while it gets physically a bit too much. For some, it happens pretty quickly; or it can take until baby becomes toddler; or until another comes along.
But the physical struggle of all that lifting and carrying, all that twisting, turning, and bending, takes its toll. Maybe for you, the toll is a bad back. Or tight shoulders, or dodgy knees or hips. Maybe it’s come on gradually, or in one big ‘yelp’ of pain. Or maybe, most insidious of all, it hasn’t really got to you properly yet – it’s waiting with a few minor aches and pains, but will strike more devastatingly when you’re a little older.
Parenthood can be easier!
It doesn’t have to be like this, of course. Like for Lesley, who came to me soon after the birth of her second child, because she was struggling with back pain and 2 small children. Rather than resign herself to a life of discomfort and pain, she worked with me to learn how manage her posture and tension levels as she went about the physical business of parenthood – she was learning how to twist, turn, bend, and pick things up with the least possible effort, in ways that don’t put unnecessary stress on the body.
There is a simple thing to remember, which can help you towards ease in the physical aspects of parenting: your feet. And your ankles.
Your feet are where your own weight, and the weight of whatever (or whoever) you may be carrying, reach the floor.
But you may not be letting that happen – I don’t mean that your weight isn’t actually reaching the floor, because it obviously is. But in muscle and tension terms, you probably aren’t letting it. And if you are letting it, you are probably not letting it arrive on the floor evenly over the front, back, and sides of your feet. And your ankles are almost certainly in on the action too.
So try simply including your feet and ankles in your awareness as you go about your daily business, and allow your weight to rest on the floor through the soles of your feet. Even while you are sitting down, this can have a real impact on your overall tension level, and promote ease in your movement.
When you’re lifting something or someone – like a small child – keeping your feet and ankles as part of your awareness can make a massive difference.
No concentrating, though!
This is about including, not excluding – expanding your awareness, not narrowing it. And the further you can expand, the better – both your awareness of yourself in action, and of the room around you. But let’s start with the feet and ankles – that’s a great first step (no pun intended).
Over to you
Do let me know your experience with this simple addition to your awareness, in the comments below – I’m interested to hear.
If you’d like to be amongst the first to hear more on this topic and others related to it, do sign up for my fortnightly blog below.
And if you’d like to solve a current problem, the way Lesley has, contact me for some Toe-in-the-water lessons in the Alexander Technique.
Either way, I look forward to being in touch.