When you become a parent for the first time, your whole world changes. It’s the KING of all adjustments. In the midst of late night feedings, dirty diapers, colic and coos; you can lose yourself.
Sure, everyone tells you to make time for yourself but how many of us really do that? I remember, right after my 3rd son was born, someone asked me what I liked to do, and I couldn’t come up with an answer. Not one thing.
That’s when I knew that I needed to strive for a little more balance in my life. I love my kids and husband more than words can express, but by never making time for ME, I was not at my best for them or myself.
Maybe you’re a stay at home parent, or a work at home parent, or maybe a work outside the home parent. Whichever path you’re on, it’s tough to find the balance that makes you fulfilled and happy, and not get bogged down in the guilt that can come from doing something for yourself instead of spending time with your kids or family.
The thing is, though, that you are part of the glue that holds your family together. When you take time to go out with friends or your partner, or get a hair cut, or even just sit in the silence and read that book you’ve been meaning to get to – you are making the glue of your family stronger by taking care of yourself. You could probably go on for awhile, playing the martyr role, spending every waking second doing things for everyone else, but eventually you will tire of it. You may feel resentful or angry or just plain worn out. Or you might wake up one day and realize you’ve forgotten who you are.
Yes, having kids requires sacrifice. I don’t think there is any way around that, nor should there be. No, I don’t think you should go out to bars every night and neglect your kids, your family, your responsibilities.
It’s all about finding the right balance.
Personally, I started by remembering what I liked to do before I had kids, and I tried to make time to do it! Instead of doing dishes, laundry and bills after the kids went to bed, I would do the most important chore, or set a time limit, and then I’d “clock out” and sit down and read a book or watch a movie with my honey. I’m in a mom’s group and I started taking advantage of the Mother’s Night Out events that were offered a few times a month. I would write. I would invite some friends over to chat or go out for coffee. Eventually, I started realizing that things at home COULD go on without me, and I found I was happier. I no longer felt like just “somebody’s mother.” Instead, I felt like an interesting, fun individual, who is also somebody’s mother – 4 somebodies to be exact!
I can’t lie, I still struggle with finding proper balance sometimes. I feel guilt and I still have to make myself do things for ME, but I’m always glad. It’s something we work on as a couple too, how to find time for yourself, your kids and your marriage. Occasionally we even hire a sitter and my husband and I go out together and actually talk to each other, and laugh, and eat – without sticky fingers and loud knock-knock jokes. It makes the time we have at home more special, because we can appreciate it, instead of wishing we were somewhere else.
So, what do you like to do?