Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.
– William Shakespeare
Leave it to Billy Shakespeare to sum it up perfectly. As parents, it’s very easy to forget about ourselves. Most of us suffer from the “focus on the kids” syndrome wherein all of our energy gets taken up before we have ever begun to even contemplate meeting our own needs.
Have you ever heard the expression, “You can’t love someone until you love yourself?” Well, you really can’t care for someone else unless you are taken care of first. If you are unhappy, unfulfilled, or not the person you want to be, you can’t expect to raise kids who will have a different outcome.
A low self-love in the parent desires that his child should repeat his character and fortune. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Those little rugrats are incredible sponges. They learn so much from us behaviorally – how to conduct relationships, how to treat other people, how to value themselves, etc. Don’t forget – the way you treat yourself will set the standard for everyone else.
So, here’s a little suggestion. Take a time out. Take a little break for yourself and do something just for you. Go ahead, be a little selfish. It won’t kill you (or anyone else). Block out just a tiny bit of time today – 30 minutes, an hour, whatever you can spare while the kids are napping, at camp, with grandma or the neighbor, locked in their rooms…Figure out a way to have that time for yourself. That may mean waiting until your spouse gets home so he/she can take over kid duty for a little bit. Maybe you have to wake up earlier than anyone else. It may mean asking someone for help. It may mean a babysitting swap. It may mean spending a bit of money on a babysitter or daycare. Make it work.
Now that you’re in a kid-free zone…Indulge in something you’re passionate about – whether it’s reading, horseback riding, model trains, or needlepoint. Grab a coffee with a friend. Hit the nearest gallery. Get a manicure. Watch the Real Housewives of Anywhere (that’s bound to make you feel better!). Do something that will make you feel good about yourself or give you a sense of accomplishment. That will energize you for the rest of the day, if not the rest of the week.
Rinse and repeat. Don’t do this only once in a blue moon when you have already burned out. Do this on a regular basis. Make it an appointment in your calendar. Daily or weekly, make it a priority.
Take the break. Then notice your attitude and demeanor afterwards. If the kids were driving you up a wall before the break, are you now more calm and able to handle things in a more productive way? Are you less apt to snap at your partner? Are you smiling a bit more? How do you feel?
In this amazing experience of parenthood, don’t lose sight of yourself. Make sure that your needs are met so that you will more gladly and happily be able to meet the needs of those around you.
I went to the gym today. It has been eons since I last exercised. It felt HORRIBLE as I was doing it, but SO WONDERFUL when I was done. I know that if I keep it up, I will actually be gaining energy and making myself better able to handle anything that comes my way.
What are you going to do for yourself?