Tuesday 27 April 2010

Archived Post 2010 - Self Care

One of the hardest things about being a parent is making sure that your all of your needs ( physical, emotional, spiritual) are met along with those of all the other members of your family. Often parents put themselves at the bottom of the list because there are just not enough hours in the day to get it all done.
Here is a perfect example, my jeans never got hemmed and my socks don't match. Now for some folks this may just be a quirky style for me it is a lack of time to meet my needs. I don't really care about my clothes so this is not a huge issue but for some people it might just be the thing that put them over the edge.

When we first got the boys there were a lot of conversations with other people about what it was like to all of a sudden have 2 very needy kids and little idea of how to actually help them. When people asked how I was coping I used to make comments like " I drink more wine now", "I let the dog lick Randall so I can give him drowsy allergy meds before bed" and " I look really forward to Mondays because they go back to school on Mondays". All of those things were true. As that first year progressed and things got harder we realised that we were quickly getting burned out and needed some help. We were coping but some days just barely it seemed and I really did not want to get depressed ( a path I am very familiar with)

We got some help. The boys were still on adoption probation then, so some of the help came from our local agency. We had respite for 3 hours every 10 days or so. It was not tons but it was enough for us to get out together or stay home and get stuff done. It worked. I don't know that we would of made it through the first year without it.

That support stopped last summer but I am still very aware of my needs and the needs that Jack and I have to be together without the kids sometimes. So we work really hard to make that time, this is one of the reasons that we do not homeschool even though sometimes I think we should. It is hard to make time to be together and it is hard to carve out time alone but I need it and so we find ways.

Now that we do not have a sitter to watch the boys and only a few friends who can handle them we have to be a little creative in our time management. Here are some of the things that we do to make sure that I get some time alone and that P and I get some time together.

- Our boys are in bed by 8pm and they stay there until 7:30am, this is not up for negotiation. Children need lots of sleep and parents need time to talk and decompress. You are in bed and that is where you will stay.
- Jack gets up with the boys on Saturday mornings so I can have one morning where I do not have to worry about breakfast and such. Then they watch cartoons/movies together.
- Sometimes Jack and I meet and have lunch out while the boys are at school.
- When I go into the city for therapy I make sure that I also make plans to have lunch with a friend and I enjoy that day just for me. It happens about every 3 weeks and if it is the summer I make Jack book time off or I pawn the boys off on a unsuspecting friend.
- Jack and I arrange to do things on our own that interest us personally or professionally and we give each other a lot of notice so that the other person can be home with the kids. Sometimes this fails because Jack is a therapist and thus has client emergencies but it usually works.
- I make time for things that make me feel good like a long bubble bath, reading or writing. These things usually happen when the boys are in bed or early in the morning. There is time but it has to be carved out, it has to exist for my sanity. I make this time and ignore the housework.
- I go to bed at 10 unless there is reason that we are all up late. I need to have enough sleep. I am useless if I tired and grouchy.
- I get up 30 minutes before everyone else so that I can have a cup of coffee and read blogs before the kids get up.
- I work in the garden, sometimes I make my kids help. It feeds my soul and the food feeds us too.
- I make sure I eat. I don't always make the best food choices ( I love fries) but I do make sure that I eat a fairly balanced diet because hunger leads to grumpy Mama.

All of that being said you must find time for you so that you can be a great parent. You can not be a great parent if you are tired, hungry or emotionally drained. You can not be a great parent if you always feel as though your children and dancing on your last nerve. You can not be a great parent if you work yourself to an early grave. You need to take care of you because then you can be a better parent to your children who really do need a lot from you each and every day.

Yes this means that everything does not get done. My house is usually messy, there is always laundry to put away and there are always dishes on the counter but I think I would rather have a messy house and be happy than a clean house and be exhausted.