It’s a fine line between giving your kids time when they need it and needing time for yourself.
That’s the parenting juggle that is most difficult for me right now.
When they were babies I immersed myself in them. I gave them as much of myself as I possibly could, because that is what they needed… and if I am honest, that is what I needed to do.
So I did just that, I gave all of myself, and I was happy.
But as my children grew older, I discovered they needed less of me, and I found these little spaces… teeny tiny spaces at first, but spaces none the less. Spaces for myself.
Slowly I remembered what it was like to have time for myself. I realised how long it had been since I’d had that, and suddenly I had this overwhelming need not to be touched, not to be asked, not to be needed.
It felt so wrong in the beginning. It felt like I was asking for something I had no right to want, because I am a mother – my job is to be needed, to be called on, to be there. And all those feelings were tainted with a hefty serve of guilt… which I then felt guilty about feeling! How do let myself be tied in these knots?
But slowly the knots loosened as I remembered what it was like to be just a person.
Slowly I understood, accepted and even embraced the need for me to be me… a mother too, but also just myself, alone.
I’ve accepted the craving for silence and space, like an itch in an awkward spot that just won’t go away, but I am still trying to figure out the best way to scratch it.
How do I find time for myself when I barely have time for everyone and everything else?
Is it ok to put my needs ahead of my children’s on occasion? How do I let go of the guilt?
And what of the times when my children need me wholey and completely? How do I put off the itch and give them all of myself when they need me?
Perhaps it is just the stage of parenting I am in… with no more babies, and kids who are taking more and more steps out into the world on their own, but who still need a solid base to hold on to.
It seems so simple when I read that article… “find time for yourself, it’s healthy”. But then I read that blog post… “Just give them your time, they won’t want it forever.” And both of them make sense, both of them feel right…
And so I find myself walking that fine line again, between giving all of myself, and keeping a little back just for me.
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Oh my goodness. This resonated with me so much. It was like reading pages from my own life. I have a 3 year old (who has always been very reserved/standoffish around others he doesn’t know well, which is basically everyone except myself and his father and slowly now his grandparents most of the time) and I struggle with when to just hold tight to my only child and when to let go or even push a little.
Oh I know that struggle so well. My twins were just like that at three and it is so hard to know when to challenge them and when to just accept them for who they are and give them time…
Mrs Pelican says
Thank you for writing out in words the thoughts I battle with daily. I don’t think there really is an answer, or a way “to scratch that itch”. it’s just another bit of the parenting game that we have to stumble through and do what feels right for you and for your family at that time.
I think you are right… there is no ‘answer’ as such… just living every moment as best we can.
i totally get what you are saying here and can definitely relate. Was talking about this tonight with my husband..is it even possible to find time for myself when life seems so full. Yes, I guess its healthy to just make time for myself (although I do find this kind of difficult with homeschooling and everyday life), yes I guess its also a season where I am needed – but is there a balance? I have no idea haha
Maybe it’s wrong, but I like to think that seeing their mum live a fulfilled, filled, full life is hugely beneficial to my kids. I like to show them all the things I get up to and ask for their input and advice. I like to share my life with them and weave them into the lot. x
I agree… My kids seems to genuinely interested, rather than envious or upset, when I go off and do something without them. I think that has been the biggest wake up call for me and a reminder that even a seemingly little thing like taking time to read a book for myself has a positive impact on my kids.
[email protected] Dirt and Boogers says
Yes, yes! It’s a beautiful thing to sit and breathe a bit, and it makes me calmer and more fulfilled. But, I get so much energy when I get to be playful with my boys. I do still feel a ping of guilt here and there when I ask my three year old to play by himself for a bit and give me some time. But, like Maxabella says, it’s so beneficial for him to see a fulfilled mom, and to get some time to himself too.
I am constantly struggling with my own attitude – “should I push Aarya to be more independent” or “should I let him be the way he is”. He is an active child, outgoing, easily makes friends and is generally not shy at all, and at 3.7, has a mind of his own. Another thing I constantly struggle with is – whenever his father or I are around him (outside not at home)- he is more demanding, irritable, upset for the silliest of things and will do the most absurd things as well; he is not like this, when he is with his grandparents or his teachers or anybody else (outside). I am so confused with his outbursts and I have no idea how to work with him on this.
Your post hits home for me as well. What a conundrum it is for me to try to reclaim ME after so many years being Mom. On the surface hubby and everyone encourages me to go for it, but in the same breath want to know where’s dinner and why hasn’t my laundry been handled, or where are you going?
If I hear one more time, “J K Rowling did it so you can too” I’m going to take a flying leap onto something supremely soft and pliable…:-/
You really do write beautifully!
We don’t have family close by so having a regular babysitter has been important for us. It is expensive but has saved my sanity – even when they were tiny and didn’t want me to leave them I would just hide in my bedroom and turn some music on while they played in the garden. I realised early on that I didn’t need a huge amount of time – just an hour or two once a week (that I could rely on and look forward to!) was enough to get me through the tough times. I figured that lots of people spend that on counselling/therapy so it was worth it as a preventive measure!