Parenting is tough. It never ends and each phase is easier, yet even more difficult than the previous stage of life. We all stress about whether we’re doing it right or scarring our children for life. I know I’m not the only one, right?
When things don’t go as planned and children get upset, you often hear it’s best to “get down on a child’s level” to handle the situation. Well, although I don’t have The Secret to Successful Parenting Handbook, I do know that once I started relating my life and my brain’s wiring to that of my child’s, it was like a light-bulb moment.
I wonder why it took me this long to figure it out? I mean, all mothers should know their child(ren) and how to raise them, right? <Insert loving eye roll and sarcasm>
My “Aha!!” Moment
I was sitting on the floor in the playroom while my son started building up the Jenga XL game when it hit me like a ton of bricks (or XL Jenga blocks). I don’t always want to play or do everything my kids want to do or play. I engage in their pretend games, put together tiny Lego pieces, and chase them like monsters because I want them to know in their hearts the unconditional love I have for them.
It’s not what I want to do, but I understand where they are coming from.
We all have a desire to express ourselves and do the things that make us happy. And at their young age, our children are only beginning to learn and grow into their own selves, developing their own identity. And when we deny ourselves the things we like, it affects who we are and our behavior.
For instance, on days when my son doesn’t get my attention towards the things he loves, I notice a big difference in his cooperation. Hmmm … that’s actually most days since his younger sister is SUPER demanding and independent at the same time, which makes for a really fun day sometimes! And on those days, I try that much harder to find some time for just mommy and bubba. I can see it in his sweet, big, brown eyes how he just wants that attention from me.
I can feel the hurt and disappointment every time he goes to start a game or build a track to race his cars on. Without fail, little sissy will come over and either take over or destroy his masterpiece. And cue the anger and tiny baby bout for the title belt!
I get it. Always having to compromise and submit to someone else’s wishes is tough. It takes a lot of energy, which leaves you not really wanting to concede any more. It’s a valid feeling and it’s totally something siblings go through as well as parents.
You see, for me, if I want to be at my best and regulate my willingness to play their games, I need to be able to have time for me and do the things I want – my own personal version of “building a track to race cars on.” I need to focus on the aspects of life I love, just as my son does, in order to be happy and balanced. And that is not something to feel bad about or be ashamed of. We all go through it, some more than others. But it’s a REAL part of life and something that should not bring judgment.
You Have Permission To Feel Important
You have to believe that you matter enough to be an individual outside of kids and family. For many, this is tough because they don’t have family or people they can turn to when they need that alone time. And for me, especially when my children were super tiny, I didn’t have close relationships with others who I could turn to when I needed help. So if you haven’t found your tribe, you’re not alone. But give it time.
And though you love your kids and you want to spend time with them, it’s OK to desperately want that hour on Saturday to get out of the house sans kids and just be you. Plan for your significant other to watch them. Reach out to a neighbor or friend nearby and continually foster those relationships so that you have the support of someone in your life you can trust when you need it.
And by all means, take that time for you.
I’m always a 100% better person and mama to my kids when I take time for me. I come back refreshed and ready to give my undivided attention to the little ones who need it the most. And teaching them the lesson of self-care is one of the best gifts I can model for them as they grow and make decisions about how to care for themselves in the future.
Make time for you Mama. You’re worth it.