A Life of Our Own
One of the dangers of parenthood is to lose sight of our own hopes and dreams as we form them for the new being in our lives…to lose our identity in the job of Parent. Whether we work and utilize daycare or stay home and parent or even homeschool, it is incumbent on us as role models for future adult humans, to not throw away that which makes us who we are while enabling them to someday become who they will.
To that end, I plan to discuss in a series of short blog posts, different ways we can keep ahold of ourselves while taking on our position of parent/care giver. Our topics:
Pursuing our dreams
Self-care has been difficult during the pandemic, and honestly since I had a baby, but the lockdown has led me to find some ways to bring peace and relaxation to myself in my own home. One of the big things that came of this year long quarantine was to learn to say no. With a new appreciation for a slower pace of life, I see the importance of not over-extending myself. I seek a balance of my priorities and say no to all things outside of them. No is equally important when dealing with the working co-parent, when one is at home, as they often don’t have a realistic idea of what a day of potty-training, make-believe, or homeschool can entail. While you need to help them with daytime errands since they are not free during those times, they have to be properly balanced for you and the young one(s). A baby in a carrier can handle many stops, but that doesn’t mean you want to carry their carseat in and out of seven locations in one day. Spread errands out through the week and say “sorry, no can do” if it is something that can wait for their day off. Remember, no one really gets a day off when parenting and in a primary/secondary parenting situation that primary is on call 24/7.
Saying no is finally also important when dealing with the littles. They want everything now, with no consideration to physical, emotional, or monetary cost. Plus, saying “no, but we can do this” or “no, and here is why” early on helps them to learn to properly plan their own financial and time management later.
Since time out (on the spot sit down and be quiet for 5 minutes and think about what you did) or quiet time (go play quietly in your room for two hours or until you calm down and can come apologize to me) are both seen as punishments by my child, we have another break from each other we call lonely time. Lonely time is when we separate to read, nap, play e-games, watch tv not interesting to the other, or to do whatever tasks we are behind on without a small child attached to the hip, and can be declared by any family member once per day, when they feel the need.
Use of lonely time will come up in the following posts, but here is how it came about: I was listening to NPR and a woman was talking about growing up in a household that had a three hour nap time every Sunday. Each child went to their own space and napped or played quietly while the parents went to their room for intimate time together or a much needed nap. Older children were left to their own choices, but no one could leave their room except for potty breaks. With an 18 month old attached to me twenty hours a day, I thought this was genius. I also thought anything worth doing one day per week was worth doing all seven days. This will come in handy. Insist upon it every day.
Some lonely times are spent in meditation or another form of relaxation. I might sit in asana, breathe, and still the mind, but I might also sit with a notepad and dump all the thoughts filling my brain. I might have a bubble bath, do an on-demand workout, send some emails that are plaguing me, edit my kitchen zones, bake an apple pie, minimize my closet, or color with my favorite pens. Whatever brings peace and joy in the moment.
Peace of mind is essential to self-care and comes in many ways. Parents, who often do not receive the recognition they deserve, should find ways that appeal to them, but a few things should be avoided: doom-scrolling social media, skipping lonely time completely because you are too busy (take twenty minutes if that is all you can fit it), binge eating or drinking (these are not true sources of comfort), and most of all the Sin of Comparison. Do not, whatever you do, compare yourself to your peer parents who, trust me, are struggling as much as you are, or Pinterest parents, who absolutely don’t have it all together. No one who has taken the time to make deviled eggs that look like penguins and fruit snacks the look like caterpillars or hedgehogs or who has built an elaborate play fort out of boxes, pillow, tension rods, sparkle lights, and hand painted decor, has also had the time to do the laundry and dishes, answer emails, walk the dog, or shower and feed themselves.
None of us can do it all. Do one thing for yourself and your children each day. In fact, getting to the end of this post, I have realized at the end of the series we will need a sixth post to bring it all together:
6. Time management
I hope you stick out the journey and find something useful from the series, even if it is to know that none of us have it all or can do it all, but we can do it smarter and find joy in the doing.