As parents, we have this overwhelming instinct to care for our families and usually enjoy doing so. Nothing makes me happier than cooking for the family and seeing everyone enjoy it. The more of a mess my son has made, the more successful I consider the meal to be because he had fun with the food.
As parents, we find ourselves in a place where we have no option but to juggle and no option but to cope even when you’re trying to rush out the door first thing in the morning, but your toddler is crying because you won’t let them pour maple syrup into their backpack. Oh, just me?
Recently, I’ve felt this even more since returning to work full-time, and although I love my job and workplace, that mom guilt doesn’t go away, and life feels like constant chaos.
We are still learning to dance.
Every so often in our household, we review what’s working or, more importantly, what’s not. My husband used this phrase when I listed things that weren’t working, and it hit home.
We’ve been together a long time and lived together for over ten years before we had a baby. We had a rhythm, and we knew how to dance. But adding a child to that, then being a stay-at-home mom for 18 months, all while living in another country where we don’t have family that can just come to visit for a day, has made this more complicated.
Now our routine has changed all over again as I started back to work full-time. But he reminded me we are still learning how to dance. I liked this idea of parenting feeling like a dance (more so than going into battle, even though it often feels this way).
I won’t pretend to know anything about dancing, but I can see that it takes balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength – all critical skills for this period in our life while we adjust.
It’s a challenge for everyone, but to be successful as a family, we’ve found we succeed the most when we take better care of ourselves individually and just every once in a while by putting ourselves first.
Here are three things I will try weekly to take better care of myself and have some time alone.
1. Get back to reading.
At one point last year, I read a couple of books weekly. I don’t have the time for that right now, but that doesn’t mean I should have stopped reading altogether. Ten pages a day is better than no pages at all.
2. Use my commute to listen to podcasts.
I will try and escape the constant replay of the Disney movie Encanto that seems to happen in our household.
3. Putting the time aside for full body scan meditations.
Stress significantly impacts my body, and I find these to help narrow down areas where I’m feeling the stress. If you haven’t tried it before bed, you should!