Hanging on by your fingernails – how you might be doing better than you think right now.

Updated: Jan 13




Ask most parents what they want for their child and the answer is always something to do with being happy, able to make choices, do their best and thrive.


Right now, when we’re in lockdown 3.0 and many parents who are hanging on by a fingernail just getting through the day is a challenge. Surviving feels a battle and thriving - that’s just what other people do on social media whilst you limp along just about making it through.


In the midst of what has been a tough year for families we are in the eye of the storm and safe harbours still feel a long way off.


But maybe you’re doing better than you think.


Stick with me on this - I know it might feel like a huge mental leap right now as you battle your child to sit down and do any form of school work.


I’m not trying to persuade you that everything is awesome despite the fact that you’re exhausted, overstretched and seriously questioning your ability to do anything well. I know you’re probably spinning too many plates with not enough resources to go round, knowing it won’t take much for the whole lot to come tumbling down. Fighting that feeling you should be doing better than you are right now.


However, I am encouraging you to pause for a moment and revisit what thriving really means because hard times and adverse conditions are inevitable seasons in life’s journey.


Adversity is difficult –it’s in its definition[1]. This might well mean in adversity your find yourself clinging on by your fingernails and hating every moment. But raising children who thrive doesn’t mean doesn’t mean avoiding adversity or enjoying it – sometimes to be able to thrive - . to grow, develop, or be successful[2] we need to be able to endure in the hard times.


The fact you’re clinging on, despite the pressure you’re under, may just be the bit which makes you successful! And that experience may develop so much more in you and your family.


The natural world is a great reminder of this, especially when the human world seems crazy.

Look around you at the natural world right now and you’ll see a whole heap of plants which really don’t look like they’re growing and thriving. A lot look pretty dead in fact or just about hanging in there. Sound familiar?


We’re in the middle of winter when the conditions are harsher and active growth is hard or impossible for many plants.


When there’s less light

Lower temperatures

Less nutrition

To the naked eye these plants are not doing a lot.


Just surviving and they don’t even look like they’re doing great at that sometimes.

They’ve had to drop their leaves to conserve energy and to withstand challenges.


And yet – dormant is neither dead nor inactive. If you were to cut into them or scrape the surface there’s a lot more going on. The plant is still working to stay alive and, for many, dormancy is actually a vital part of the life cycle before new buds can emerge. Their success is their current survival ready for their future growth.


Sometimes when we appear to be barely surviving there’s a whole heap more going on.


So what does this mean for family life?


Most importantly you don’t need to appear to be blossoming – it’s winter!


I’ll say that again

You don’t need to appear to be blossoming – not all season are the time for blossom.


Secondly instead of blossoming this may be a season of dropping your leaves (or letting go of certain things) to conserve energy. Which “leaves” have you dropped or would it be helpful to drop right now? Which battles at home need to be left? Which work projects just have to go on hold right now? Who do you have to let down or disappoint in order to take care of those who need you most?


Thirdly it’s a season where any growth or development may be beneath the surface and to anyone on the outside there’s not a lot which is visibly happening. However, what’s happening underneath the surface may be immensely valuable.


What are you learning from these times…

… about what matters most to you and your family?

… from what you miss?

… and from what you don’t miss?

… what are you noticing in your children?

… about what works for you and your family?

... about just how much more you can do that you thought you could?



Finally, in the midst of it, what opportunities are there to teach your children about adversity so that when they face adversity in the future they’ll be better equipped thanks to this experience?


Most of all how do you hold onto the hope of spring? Given that’s when we’re looking at restrictions lifting it’s more than a metaphor here.



You can’t prevent the change of the seasons – winter comes, but it also goes…… eventually.

Spring will come.




There will be a time to breathe a sigh of relief and blossom again. This winter is a hard one. It will certainly leave its mark. But maybe you’ll also be able look back and see you succeeded in making it through something pretty hard and grew and developed ready for the new normal.


And when you look back at the new blossoms which come as a result of it - it might look remarkably like thriving!



I help parents whose children find everyday activities difficult to tap into their expertise on their child and find ways to best support their child so they can make family life a more positive and happier experience for the whole family. If you’d like to know more about working together get in touch. E-mail: Juliecresswell@optimum-coaching.co.uk


As my knowledge of trees and plants is mainly from a 25 year old GCSE and an amateur interest in gardening I had to check some of my info. I use the following to help me:

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/171/3966/29

https://smartgardenguide.com/what-is-plant-dormancy/

https://www.chewvalleytrees.co.uk/blog/story/what-happens-to-trees-in-winter


Photos by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

[1] https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/adversity [2] https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/thrive


#parenting #coaching #optimumfamilylife #parentlife #winter #lockdown3.0 #parenthood #homeschooling #threenagers #tweens #teens #emotionalwellbeing

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