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The Ripple Effect of Restoration

By: Kaitie Westbrook


My theme for this week has centered around parenting. So, I decided it would be best to share how I restored this past week, and how this created a positive ripple effect for others.


I had been invited to dinner by two of my girlfriends, also moms. We hadn't been out or away from our children in months. I hesitated and initially felt as though I couldn't join in. I thought it would simply be too much to be away from my littles around bedtime. However, we decided to schedule an earlier dinner to all be home for their bedtimes, and we made it happen.


We had a lovely dinner and, of course, talked about our children and the challenges of motherhood. We spent time talking about self-care and the associated challenges. This provided an opening for me to plant some Self-Reg seeds.


I talked about this in relation to the 5 domains, and some of the examples (both positive and negative stress involved) were:


  • Biological Domain: Physically being away from our children, our individual restaurant experiences and food

  • Cognitive Domain: Organizing the event, planning for the children while you are gone

  • Emotion Domain: Guilt, Separation Anxiety/Worry, Empathy (for one another's mothering experiences also connects to prosocial)

  • Social Domain: Maintaining Relationships, Friendship, Validation and Supportive Conversation

  • Prosocial Domain: The urge to fulfil commitments to others, worrying about implications, worrying about the perception of selfishness associated with time away from children. We had a great discussion about this, and we could reframe our thoughts about selfishness to those of self-care. We talked about needing to ensure we restored our energy to meet our littles' needs


I left the dinner feeling filled up that I had shared some helpful Self-Reg knowledge that will benefit my friends and their families while also feeling refreshed and restored.


When I arrived home that night, I opened my door and instantly heard my baby girl shrieking and crying. A sound that has been a limbic trigger for me as I have been sitting in the low energy, high tension area of the Thayer Matrix. However, I actually felt myself smile. I went into the living room and took her from my husband, and she instantly stopped crying and snuggled into the crevice of my neck and shoulder. I took her up and rocked her to sleep, soaking in every moment of our interbrain connection as she relaxed her tiny body and drifted off to sleep.


Then I came downstairs to my toddler, who greeted me with a hug, asked me how my dinner was with my friends and then asked me to sleep with him - (not something he typically asks mom for!)


I noticed I felt particularly calm and present, and enjoyed this sensation. I felt more present than ever to simply be with him while also feeling eager to meet his needs. We went upstairs and snuggled together to read some bedtime stories.


Applying a Self-Reg lens, it is no surprise that two hours out of the house with no responsibilities, and the opportunity to connect with dear friends reduced tension and restored energy levels. As we said our goodbyes, we all shared that we noticeably felt a reduction in our stress and a sense of calm. Reflecting on this seemingly frivolous engagement provided me with profound insight into how mothers can co-regulate one another, which assists them in later regulating their children.


The next day I messaged my girlfriends to thank them for the wonderful (and restorative) quality time. They both replied to share that their emotional cups were filled.


I share this story because I appreciated how the ripple effect of restoration so naturally occurred by a simple dinner out with some mom friends. As a Self-Regger, I appreciated that the dinner conversation offered the opportunity to plant Self-Reg seeds and ultimately restored three exhausted moms who love their families. These moms felt restored and could go home and continue their roles and responsibilities with a renewed sense of calm. Three families absorbed the positive impact of restoration as they all reaped the rewards of enjoying a calm, present parent who was ready to jump back into the multifaceted demands and gifts of motherhood!


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3 Comments


Lisa Cranston
Lisa Cranston
Apr 11, 2022

I used to meet for a monthly for brunch with a group of former co-workers who are all now retired, like me. During the pandemic and on/off lockdowns we tried having virtual get togethers but we didn't enjoy them as much. When I look at our virtual brunch through a self-reg lens, and compare it to your dinner out with others, I can see that online meetings often add more stress around using technology, and the stress trying to communicate when we can't 'read' the nonverbal cues as easily. Instead of feeling restored, online meet ups left me feeling more depleted. For me, I'm unable to achieve that same sense of being present when I'm not physically with the o…

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Aviva Dunsiger
Aviva Dunsiger
Apr 11, 2022
Replying to

I so agree, Lisa! I’ve wanted to embrace these online get-togethers, but I end up counting down the time until they’re over. This reminds me of just how personal Self-Reg is.


Aviva

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Aviva Dunsiger
Aviva Dunsiger
Apr 11, 2022

Thanks for sharing this experience! It makes me think about how we restore in other areas of our lives. Thinking about my work as an educator, I wonder if it’s sometimes taking that time away — e.g., eating lunch by myself or connecting with peers over lunch — that allows me to be more present for my students. Hmmm … Something more to consider.


Aviva

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