Parents, Learn to Give Yourself a Break
I just read an article that said that being a mom is like working two and a half jobs! No wonder we are so tired. Being demanded upon by our children non stop is exhausting. We love them, but still fantasize about being alone and free. My children have gotten past that baby stage now, but my remembrance of the commitment and hard work that it involves is exactly one of the reasons I do exactly what I do.
I have watched many parents in the course of my job and very often have a combination of envy as I miss my babies being babies and sympathy as I truly remember how demanding and hard it was. How did I survive? That is the very question I just asked myself. And here are the answers that immediately came to me.
- Do something you love. I can’t say enough how important this is. So very often moms and dads make their children so much the center of their universe that they forget to take care of the things they themselves love. For me, my love was piano and music with my son and guitar with my daughter. Children will resist and push against you at times, but for the sake of your own sanity, do not give in. 90% of your life is very much wrapped up in them as it should be. Children often resent anything else taking your interest (such as a phone call) instead of them. I found that my children learned to respect me far more when I knew how to respect myself enough to do those things for myself that I needed to do.
- Maintain Clear and Consistent Boundaries. Children are much happier and are much easier to enjoy when they know what their boundaries are and they have learned to respect them. Do you realize that children feel safer when they have boundaries? Did you know that knowing what to expect instead of constantly being unsure of what is going on feels so much more pleasant? Many parents don’t realize that children actually respect us so much more when we create those safe boundaries. They see that we totally respect ourselves enough to create these boundaries, that we know how to establish order and that we care enough about them to create these rules that keep their world safe and peaceful. This takes seemingly a little more work, but in reality it is far less stressful to plan ahead then to constantly be putting out fires that are always coming up. That is far more stressful. Just as we plan our own personal schedules and spending, plan our children’s schedules and activities.
- Take physical breaks away from your children. This may be difficult for some parents as it is not always easy to find that other person to help watch your children for a couple of hours while you take a much needed break away from the constant demand of their presence. This was the hardest one for me to do as my parents were a thousand miles away and my husband was not that father who knew how to take over and watch little ones. When he was better with my daughter I can remember learning to take those breaks and how good it felt. Find friends who are willing to trade off times occasionally so that sometimes you can take the break while they watch your child and then you trade the favor and watch their children while they take that break. If your parents are available this is ideal. I envy anyone who is blessed to have this circumstance.
- Encourage naps and regular bedtimes. This is one of those organizational disciplines that seems hard but makes you and your child both so much happier. Your child will be so much happier when he or she gets the rest he needs and when he or she knows exactly what the routine is. As I said earlier, this makes children feel safer and it gives them much more respect for you that you are indeed the person in control who knows what you are doing. When your child sleeps, you can rest and this means that you are also benefiting,
- Get involved in other children’s groups with other parents of children the same age as yours. This is what I do. I am the lady who leads the group for parents to get together with their children. This is wonderful as parents are finding adult conversation. Parents of the same age children are all able to share stories and advice as you are all in the same situation. Your children will learn so much by socializing with other children, and as I always say, they will learn more about socializing by watching you socialize. This is a win win!