Parent Time! Time for meeeee!!!!!!
- Posted by:
- Michael Grose
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Take time for yourself. Say it a few times and it’ll seem like the most natural thing in the world. The reality for most of us is quite different. I’ll be frank here. The reality for most women, who are in most cases the primary parents, is that they hard-wired to look after the well-being of others.
The irony here is that women compared to men are more likely to look after their physical and emotional health and well-being however once they become parents often their personal side comes last. Of course, some women due to lack of support networks have no other option. Most men neglect their personal health and well-being due to a mixture of ‘she’ll be right’ stoicism and a misguided macho independence, but that’s another story.
Taking time for yourself isn’t hard as you may think!.
First, you need to work out what you want and what‘s reasonable at your stage of life. As an empty-nester time for me includes a leisurely breakfast reading the newspaper with a second cup of coffee. A few years back with kids at home who needed to be driven to school bus stops, such a luxury was out of the question.
A quick glance at the headlines on the sports pages and few gulps of instant coffee was about as good as it got in the mornings. However I did manage to eke out some pleasures for myself. Walking the dog each evening was more about giving me a break than making sure the family pooch was exercised.
Maintaining some time for activities that energise and sustain you may happen accidently, but I wouldn’t count on it. As our lives get busier it seems that those who function best are those who put strategies in place to navigate toward a balance. The key strategies to achieve time for yourself are: boundaries to protect the activities you want and, ritualizing of the behaviours and activities that you value.
Let’s look at rituals first. As a busy work-focused, family-oriented person, I realised some time ago that the only way I could get some time for myself and my friends was to lock some key activities in place to make sure they always happened. I am in social group that meets once a month. I am in a walking group that hits the trails on a fortnightly basis. I love the theatre so every year my wife and I buy a season’s ticket to a set number of plays, with a group of other people. If it sounds regimented then relax, the rest of my life isn’t like that. But these activities have been ritualised so that they are part of my life and they always happen.
The second reason they always happen is due to the boundaries I put in place to protect them. Try getting me on a walking day and you’ll have no hope as the mobile is turned off and no speaking bookings are made for those times. Try getting me to travel when it’s theatre night and you’ll find it won’t happen. Now it’s putting boundaries in place when they don’t involve children. I have done the same when my children were younger. ‘Sorry, I can’t drive you tonight. You know Wednesday night is my night for…….’ is the sort of response that my kids have heard from me.
The use of Rituals and boundaries are both strategies parents use in their families to make sure the family gets together and to teach kids how to behave. They are also useful strategies to use to make sure you get some valuable time for the activities that energise you and make you an interesting person to be around. These are great skills to teach your children too as one of the legacies of parents who raise their kids to thrive is to teach their kids to live life well.
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