You Matter (archived original)
Note: This post was written originally written and published on June 22, 2014 as the final installation of 18 in Mind, a blog about the day kids turn 18 and the (parenting) years in between.
It’s been a year since the last 18 in mind blog post. After experiencing several burnouts, it was time to stop, reflect, and take care of ‘Maya’.
While I learned a lot over the past twelve months, there’s one in particular that I would like to share with you so you may continue to be the awesome parents you are and want to be.
I often say that we can be selfish all our lives until the day we have children. In the midst of an uber-hectic schedule, it’s easy to find yourself, years later, wondering where time flew and what happened to the person you once were.
Taking care of your children, especially in their early years, becomes the forefront of your priorities. Making sure they are well, and everything that relates to what that actually means, puts your needs and self-care on the backburner. Until the day you crash and burn or find that you can’t recognize yourself anymore. At that point, you’ve given everything to your kids, including your hobbies, passions, friendships, and sometimes, unfortunately, your relationship with your partner.
But when that happens, no one benefits.
With time, keeping up that kind of lifestyle likely means that your stress levels will continue to rise, your relationships will become fragmented, and you won’t feel like yourself anymore. Throughout it all, your children will suffer. Wait - wasn’t that what you were trying to avoid in the first place?
One way to help prevent this from happening is to be proactive. Instead of becoming completely self-less, putting your children, partner, family, and friends ahead of yourself – even when it’s at the point of burnout – try to hold back at times and take care of you too.
That means making time, if only for five minutes a day, to do something that feeds into, and nourishes your soul. It means continuing to take time out to do some of the things that matter to you. This can look like waking up at 6 am on Saturdays to read a chapter out of your favourite book before the rest of the family gets up (the way I know one dad does), or asking your friend to watch over your kids while you and your partner get a night off to connect every once in a while.
It’s small steps like these that end up having a big impact on your well-being. By taking care of you, even if it’s just for 1% of the time, you will still be present for the journey.
So with 18 in mind, how can you take better care of yourself and your needs, if not for you, then at least for your children? I can’t think of anything less selfish than that!
Maya, someone who’s on the road to recovery too.