The number one thing people tell you about parenting?
Kids come first.
End of story. No discussion, no questions.
Now, I don’t disagree with this advice, but there’s a fine distinction between the “kids come first”, and the “I have to do what’s best for my kids” approach. The moment you do something for yourself, there are plenty of people ready to write you off as a selfish parent. Don’t listen to them. Listen to you kids. Ask your kiddo, “Do you like it better when mom and dad are stressed out, or when we’re happy.” Gee, I wonder what they’ll say.
Thankfully, people are starting to realize that if you want to raise happy, healthy kids, you have to be healthy and happy too! This is important to remember, and I noticed it the most in this Proud to Parent program. Every meeting, we go through a few questions at the beginning. Guess which question is the hardest to answer….
“What have you done for yourself this week?”
This might seem like a strange question to ask, especially coming from the “drop everything for the kids” approach to parenting. But it makes a lot of sense, and I think people need to remember that. Any parent, no matter what age, will tell you that parenting is exhausting at times. Parenting is a tough job, no doubt about it. But it’s also so incredibly rewarding, and in order to get the most out of parenting, you have to be able to take a step back and reflect on it.
If you’re like me, it’s always hard to take time for yourself. Between work, school, kids, and every other obligation I’m signed up for, “me-time” isn’t exactly a top priority. You feel guilty, you can’t stop thinking about work tomorrow, or that exam coming up, you miss your kids. But I’ve also started to see how important it is. Trust me, if I’ve had time to hang out with a friend or relax and read a book, I have way more fun with my son. Sleeping too; man does getting enough sleep help…
So don’t be afraid to help yourself help your kids. If you need a break, that’s ok. If you need a night out or time to yourself, don’t let anyone tell you you’re not entitled to that. Parenting is a full time job, and full time jobs have vacation time for a reason. Everybody needs a vacation, even if it’s just one night. Trust me, taking a day to recharge, catch up with an old friend, do some yoga, take a nap, whatever, will pay back tenfold. If taking a night to yourself lets you be able to relax and have fun with the kids all weekend, it’s totally worth it!
So let me ask, what have you done for yourself this week?