The other day the kids were bouncing wildly off every bit of furniture in the home, off of each other, and off the walls themselves. That day wasn’t exactly unique, either, as the kids have been especially energetic lately and have been struggling to find the best ways to release that energy. My wife, whose patience is unmatched, was nearing her breaking point and we sat down to talk about some frustrations.
At one point in our conversation, I started to realize something…my wife really never does anything solely for herself. From the moment her alarm goes off in the morning (before mine) until she collapses into bed late at night (after I do), she’s handling other people’s needs. I even asked her to point out the last time she did something she wanted to do that was purely for her own benefit. She had trouble coming up with a moment.
I don’t think my wife’s situation is unique. In fact, I think it’s fairly common that the never-ending demands of parenthood push us to continually set aside our ambitions and comforts to satisfy the wants and needs of our growing children. It’s a noble thing, for sure, but there’s no shame in taking some time for yourself. In fact, most experts on parenting would agree that it’s necessary.
An article that was published a couple of years ago in the Washington Post likened self-care as a parent to the command post in the armed forces. It said:
In traditional ground-fought wars, the command post behind the lines would often have hot coffee, good food and dry clothes. Was this because the generals were selfish? Or because they deserved it for having made the highest ranks in the military?
No, it was because if the command fell or experienced low morale, the rest of the troops, and indeed the entire war effort, would be in jeopardy. Those leaders making critical decisions needed to be at their best.
Now think of that in terms of parenting. Parents are the generals of their household. How do you, in particular those who stay at home with children, feel day after day, hour after hour, with no real break in sight? Is your coffee hot and clothing dry? Probably not.
If that continues, how do you think your troops at home will fare? Not well, if you’re not well.
Sure, we sell products to make your parenting tasks easier, more enjoyable, and to take less of your time, but it’s important to find ways to step away from those tasks completely from time to time. Remember that happy parents are better parents. Find ways to introduce a little down time into your routines. You will thank yourself for it, and so will your children.