30 Mar Purposeful Parenting (Part 4): Taking Care of You
You’re a parent. You’re worn out. You get up early, you go to bed late, you feel like you’re always doing something for somebody else. People need to go places and everybody has to eat. Always, the eating. Do you ever wonder when someone is going to do something for you? You don’t have to be a martyr, but you do need to take care of you. Resentment grows when we neglect to do the things that fuel and inspire us.
A couple of months ago, I attended a retreat that included some soul-searching. One of the things we did was take a big piece of poster board and divide it into four quadrants. On it, we wrote: Things That Sustain My Soul, Things That Invigorate My Life, Things I Need to Take Hold Of, and Things I Need to Let Go. Just writing down the things that sustain my soul made my heart smile. My list included date nights, bubble baths, hot tea, dark chocolate, naps, and deep friendships. Equally empowering was my Let Go list, which included selfishness, a perfect house, and proving myself–among other things. (Yeah, we don’t need to talk about those) Maybe most eye opening, however, were the things I need to Take Hold Of. I wrote down that I needed to affirm my husband more and spend more intentional time with my kids. That list was hard to write because those are things I want to do, I should do, and I need to do, but…I find hard to do.
I don’t know if you’re a list person, but sometimes it’s easier to see what we need to do if we put them in list form. I liked this exercise because I got an opportunity to reflect on the things that make me oh, so happy but I also gained insight into the areas that need a little work. Each of the lists alone wouldn’t have been much help to me, but by grouping the Four Things I was able to see both the life-giving patterns and the draining ones at the same time. The perspective helped me identify where I need to direct my focus.
Give yourself a break.
Remember, you’re a parent. You’re worn out. You get up early. You go to bed late. You feel like you’re always doing something for somebody else. That’s okay. That’s your job. But your job does not define who you are as a person. And your kids need to see who you are as a person. When you show them what’s important to you–what sustains and invigorates you–they get to see somebody who’s not just mommy or daddy. They get to see a real, live human being, complete with hopes and dreams and favorite things. When you share the things you love with them, you give them permission to love things, too. In the process, you may find common ground. And who doesn’t want a deeper level of connection with their kids?
Parenting isn’t about balancing life with kids and life without them. It’s about finding fullness in the midst of both.