Survival of the fittest – 10 essentials items you should have in your parenting kit.

Whether you’re about to have a baby, you’re a mum of three or your chickens are about to fly the coop, parenting is a story of survival in often treacherous conditions. Here’s the top 10 items a child psych would recommend for the long, hard road of parenthood. By Eliza LeMessurier and Lynn Jenkins.

It’s been 504 days since I last had a good sleep.  

I did this sum at 2am, when my nine-month-old was flipping back and forth like a tiger cub in the bed next to me cutting yet another tooth. How much longer can I do this? I said to myself.  

The next morning, waking with a sore throat and head cold, I got told by my five-year-old, mum, you kinda look grey today and a little later, my 7-year-old, I wish dad was here, he’s just a little bit more fun.  

Being a parent is a hard effin slog. Especially when you’re sleep deprived, emotionally drained or one of my mum-favourites, expected to be everywhere tending to everyone and everything at the same time. 

One study in the National Library of Medicine showed that moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Basically, when we haven’t slept for a long period, our blood alcohol reading goes to 0.05% – the legal driving limit in Oz. 

The harsh conditions of parenting.

You know that TV show Alone on SBS? It challenged participants to survive out in the wilderness for as long as possible against the forces of nature. The participants were only allowed to pack 10 essential items. The bio of the show goes something like this,  

‘A group of 10 brave participants are forced to use their wits when left in the wilderness with nothing but a backpack. The adventurers struggle with harsh weather, hostile locations, and aggressive wildlife.’ 

Yep, that pretty much sums up mum-life for me.  

  • Harsh conditions? 500 days of sleep deprivation – tick.  
  • Hostile locations? My house, 3pm when everyone is moody and hungry – tick 
  • Aggressive wildlife? A five-year-old who still loves a tantrum – enough said.  

Well, you know what? I’ve had enough of just surviving. I need some help, so I asked Clinical Psychologist Lynn Jenkins about the top 10 things she’d recommend I should have in my survival kit.  

10 Things to pack in your survival kit from a Clinical Psych. 


Awareness is the no.1 thing to pack. I’m talking real awareness, not the ‘I went to yoga and felt connected for an hour, awareness’. When you learn the skill of awareness and you nurture it, you can then effectively manage whatever follows. For a step by step on how to do this, check out How to be an aware parent.


Be open to everything and anything because there is a big chance your experiences will defy your expectations!  


Get out of your survival brain and into your smart brain. You can do this by engaging something to calm you down whenever your survival brain is in overdrive. This could be taking some deep belly breaths or counting slowly backwards. Whatever tool works for you. In Boss Brain, we teach kids and parents 10 different tools, but it helps to know one really well and practice it, so your brain builds muscle memory and can draw on it quickly whenever you need.  


Be open to being honest about your experiences in the ‘wild’! Both your fellow travellers and you will feel a freedom at being able to talk about how astronomically difficult it can be at times. 


It’s important to have a general preparedness to laugh at things going to the pooh, because it will at some stage over the years! The more you’re open and prepared for this, the more you can let it flow when it does – ewww.


Being cognitively ‘limber’ will help to manoeuvre around the tree branches that fall over your path, climb up struggle mountain at times, and bend over backwards to accomplish multiple miracles in a day! 

 7. ACCEPTANCE (rather than fighting with what can’t be changed) 

An extremely relevant question to always have in mind is: Is this (e.g., event, situation) IN my control or NOT in my control?  And then nod to the answer with acceptance and move forward.  

 8. Your PERSON 

If you have a person in your life with whom you feel totally, emotionally safe and not judged, then lean on them. In Boss Brain, we teach parents that connection makes kids feel safe and calm; it is the same for us adults too.  


An APP that regularly tells you things like: You’re doing great! and It’s all worth it! And She is the Princess, but YOU are the QUEEN! And You’re pretty! Yes, this could be in the form of a digital app, or a post it stuck firmly to your bathroom mirror. The aim is to remind yourself – you’re strong and you can do this and if you’re not feeling particularly strong and you need to seek help, that’s ok and a corageous move to take too.


All parents need time to stop and spend a little time with their own self!  This needs to be GUILT-FREE!!  Some might need a whinge and a whine; and others a wine and a dine! This final essential item is SOLO TIME where you don’t have to be mum mum mum but you can just be you.  

Let’s rewrite the show. 

Well, I always expect Clinical Psychologists to tell me intensely intricate things about changing my psyche, but Lynn always brings a wise human response that I can practically implement in my life – thanks Lynn!   

In my humble opinion, when the next season of Alone hits our screens, I reckon they should do it about us everyday mums and what freakin’ legends we all are.   

A group of everyday mums, defy the odds by dealing with birth, newborns, toddlers, threenagers, moods, attitudes all while expected to live off a cup of cold tea and scraps of toast and know everything and pretend you’re nothing all at once. 

Cheers to that SBS.  

About Boss Brain. 

Here at Boss Brain, we love tips and tricks but we’re all about teaching you real stuff to change the way families view and work with emotions. If you need some more help, take a look at our 10-week online kids’ program.

About Lynn Jenkins

Lynn Jenkins is a Clinical Child Psychologist, mother of 3 and creator of the 10-week digital program Boss Brain. She believes it ‘makes sense to start at the beginning’ when it comes to emotions and behaviour as ‘when we have strong emotional foundations, we can build a strong human foundation’. Together with her team she loves developing Boss Brain and resources for parents to make parenting a little easier and kids a little calmer.   

About Eliza LeMessurier

Eliza is a mum of 3 and has worked with Lynn on the development of Boss Brain since it was a wee Boss Baby. She has a special interest in using tech to access and communicate the human experience. Eliza loves sourcing ideas, writing and editing. She’s passionate about ‘sharing the REAL parent experience without the sugar coating’, and ‘breaking down psych lingo’ so that parents can access education and support like Boss Brain in simple, relatable ways.


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