Reviving your parenting mojo, from Andrew Fuller

Parenting can be a rollercoaster, and you may sometimes want to take a breather. Here, clinical psychologist and family therapist Andrew Fuller shares how parents can rediscover the joy by looking after themselves.

Parents are exhausted, the kids are bonkers, the dog, after an intensive fitness program, is feeling abandoned. Everyone is out of sorts. What is going on?

The past few years have discombobulated us and torn us away from our usual patterns of life. We work, socialise, and live very differently than we did before.

Having our lives pulled apart means we now need to recover and reassemble the parts that work for us. We also need to accept that the world has changed, and we need to readjust our priorities and reset our daily rhythms.

The past few years have left many of us feeling edgy, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Sadly, this has left some of us so numb and so swamped we are unable to enjoy the things that previously gave us great satisfaction such as spending time with our loved ones and family.

Regaining your mojo

We all deserve better. However, the frantic whirligig of life isn’t going to pause to give us the opportunity to recalibrate. If we want to regain our energy, our vitality, and our wellbeing we need to reclaim our balance and rhythm. We need to do this for ourselves, and we need to do this for our children.

There seems to be a split in what people want — some want concerts, sports, getting out and about, and socialising, while others want some serenity, privacy, and time alone.

I asked the team at Skodel to research the big challenges for us all. These are to:

  • regain restful sleep
  • refocus our concentration
  • reduce our anxiety
  • take charge of our online life
  • rebuild our friendships and social connections
  • increase our motivation.

Don’t wait to feel right to begin

Decide to create a life you can love. Love is a commitment that you decide upon. Choosing to create a life you love is a struggle that is worth fighting for. Summon whatever energy you have into a ferocity of intention to do this.

Restful sleep

The world has changed but we haven’t really kept up with the changes. The past few years saw many people with disrupted sleep. While this has largely passed, there are many people who still wake up feeling just as tired as when they went to bed.

The remedy for this will be gradual, but you can begin to readjust by:

  • Have a wind-down evening time where we settle after the busyness of life.
  • Make a to-do list for the next day before getting into bed.
  • Trying to re-establish a sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same times more days.
  • Eating breakfast outdoors in the sunlight.

Focus and concentration

It is important to reconstruct our ability to concentrate. Read a book and gradually increase the number of pages you read every day.

Concentration is a skill that can be developed using the process of AIER:

Awareness- what am I doing?

Intention- what is my goal?

Evaluation- what should I be doing?



Since the pandemic years, anxiety levels have skyrocketed, creating levels of distress and avoidance we simply haven’t seen before.

While anxiety expressed as worry still occurs, what predominates more frequently is immobilisation and avoidance. In the past few years, people have generally experienced their anxiety as digestive issues, pain sensitivity and sheer exhaustion. This threatens the ‘have-a-go’ mindset that broadens success.

There are three main levels of anxiety, and each one needs different strategies:

Freeze and fatigue – rest, then move, reset and step in rather than zone out or avoid.

Fight and flight – exercise, dance, sing, hum, move.

Synch and link – talk, problem solve, link and act with others in the community.

Friendships and social networks

Time to dust off the social list and see who you really want to reconnect with. There may be some people you wish to consign to history, but you are not designed to be a hermit. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, it is important to reconnect with the right number of people who you feel supported by.

Reduce your use of misery machines

Taking charge of your online life is tricky. The internet is like a clever fishing device that entices using lures and bait. In this analogy, you are a hapless, innocent fish.

Twitter or X is a sewer of vitriol and contempt.

Instagram robs us of happiness by increasing envy and comparison.

Facebook or Meta is filled with ads and fake news.

TikTok makes it appear that everyone else is incredibly marvellous and leaves us feeling like lonely losers.

These are time-soaking, misery machines that, unless controlled well, absorb enormous amounts of time while contributing to our sense of misery.


Most of us feel like our get up and go has got up and gone.

If we don’t transform pain, we transmit it. We risk passing it on to future generations to carry as a burden.

If we don’t transform pain, we transmit it. We risk passing it on to future generations to carry as a burden.

Reclaim your life

Mapping over 500,000 lives for my book, Your Best Life at Any Age provided some useful lessons about how people transform the setbacks and even devastations they experience.

One lesson was that many people experience a period of pronounced growth after a setback. The forms of setback ranged from grief, heartbreak, loss, and major disasters.

Of course, not everyone experiences this. It would be irresponsible and unethical to claim that we can overcome every experience that life throws at us.

Our setbacks and hurts alter us. Like a shock to the soul, our spirit is shaken. People are so wired to perceive and remember danger that the experience becomes incorporated within us and shifts our view of the world.

Past hurts do not just vanish into thin air. They reverberate within us and return to our awareness at specific times (such as anniversaries) to remind us of their lessons.

Transformation occurs not through forgetting or growing beyond the pain but by living through the pain.

It is easy to get stuck at this point. It would be understandable. Nevertheless, there are things we can all do to adapt and adjust after tough times and personal pain. It is in our own interest to do as much as we can, and it is also to the benefit of future generations.

So, based on 500,000 life maps, let’s start to consider what makes a time of recovery and growth possible after a tough or even devastating time:




Applying CPR to your own life
This is not about becoming some kind of tough, thick-skinned, gritty person who is imperious to the slings and arrows of life.

It is also not about waiting for a major challenge, disaster, loss, or setback to give you an opportunity to prove your resilience.

We all get enough opportunities most days. Resilience is a practice we can refine as we deal with the relatively minor challenges we face every day.


Just as some animals hibernate to avoid the harshness of the weather, we, too, need to retreat and recuperate before we can advance.

Connecting is coming home to the person you were before the tough past few years. Initially, this may involve turning inwards and away from the dangers of the external world. It may also require less exposure to the screeching voices of the world to restore yourself.

Some people seek out the familiar and reread their childhood books or rewatch cherished movies. Like a paddock that is left fallow, we need to step back from being productive to replenish the self.

We all need time to return to comfort and recover. As we restore, we reconnect with our inner strength.

These strengths are physical as much as mental. Take walks to reground, rest and sleep well, restore your awareness of beauty, and eat foods that act as ‘penicillin to our souls’.

Gradually, gently, connect with your tribe. Be discerning. Find people who replenish your spirit. Anything or anyone who bores you, drains you or diminishes you, should be left until later. Be considerate of others and be kinder to yourself. This is not an avoidance of life; it is a reconnection to it.


We need psychological safety to learn. We are in the serious business of learning how to incorporate the painful experience without being defined by it.

Adapting to a new sense of yourself is never about ‘fake it till you make it’. Adopting a breezy, ‘I’m fine’ front to the world is appealing. It is also lying to yourself and to others.

Accepting that the past few years have done some damage and will take some working through is a better approach to sustainable future growth.

People who pretend to be early ‘super-copers’ place themselves at great risk.

People recover from horrible events in different ways. Some need to reckon with the tough times and create a sense of meaning around them. Others seem less helped by this and instead look to changed ways of living their lives in the future.

If there is one thing that I have learned from being privileged to work with people going through this in my therapy room, it is that no one recipe of recovery is right for everyone.


The past few years have most likely robbed you, to some extent, of energy, creativity, certainty and meaning. Things that you thought were trustworthy were not reliable or safe.

Respect your own recovery timelines. This should not be rushed. It takes time to rebuild a meaningful life that is informed by, but not ruled by, the tough times you have experienced.

I hope that applying CPR to your own life does for you the same thing springtime does for nature.

Copyright Andrew Fuller.

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About Andrew Fuller

Andrew is a clinical psychologist and family therapist, author and speaker, and a regular contributor to The Parents Website.

More tips about how to maximise your success can be found at:

Andrew’s websites  (45,000 young people in the past year discovered their learning strengths and found how to increase success and motivation).

Books for parents
Tricky Behaviours
The A to Z of Feelings,
Unlocking Your Child’s Genius (Bad Apple Press)

Books for teachers
Guerilla Tactics for Teachers (from
Tricky Behaviours
Tricky Teens
Unlocking Your Child’s Genius (Bad Apple Press)
Neurodevelopmental Differentiation- Optimising Brain Systems to Maximise Learning (HawkerBrownlow)