Some days are tranquil, and my kids play together well. My daughter naps when she’s supposed to, my son colors on the paper instead of on himself, and we can get the dog out for a walk. I can prepare dinner and even sneak glances at a magazine.
Some days, not so much. Some days my only quiet time is stealing away to use the bathroom, until I’m discovered. Such is life. I’m really not complaining. I’ve got two healthy kids who know they are well-loved.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on the value of time. To me there’s nothing more precious than time. Family time. Alone time. The latter brings me to my point.
Many times we mamas think of ourselves as selfish for wanting something that is just ours and no one else’s, something we don’t share with our partner or children. We think it’s selfish that when kid-free time comes along, we want to do something besides grocery shop or mow the lawn. But it’s not selfish. In fact, having your own thing makes you a better parent, which is really the best thing you can give your kids.
My something is writing. Some days I use a sitter for a few hours in the afternoon, and I go write, usually at Mela Roasting Co. or Upper Eastside Coffee Co. An hour or more of uninterrupted writing time is bliss. For some of my friends, mountain biking is their thing. Or going to the movies alone. However you want to spend your time, own it. Make it yours.
Some days I don’t get such luxury. Time and energy afford me a single line in my journal at night (usually something like: “today, my dog took a crap in the yard.”) Sometimes you have to take what you can get, when you can get it. The important thing is to take a breath and give yourself permission to have your own thing.
If you work full-time outside the home or are a single mom, this can be especially challenging. I feel ya. Find a good, reliable sitter and hold on to him or her like gold. Check out the new TEAMS learning center in town. No disposable income at the moment? Consider a childcare swap with friends or other barter. You might be surprised how many people are open to bartering.
When you do get time away, be prepared to miss your kids. A great paradox of parenthood, I’ve discovered, is so badly wanting a break, but when you get that break you spend all your time thinking about them. And that’s OK. But if you don’t miss them, that’s OK too.
The very best things we can give our kids are happy parents (remember, Dad needs time away too). This can be quite a balancing act. But if you can do it, it is oh so worth it.