When you have children they should always come first. Is that what you were taught? Is that what you believe? What happens when the kids always come first and you come last? Do your kids get to see the best of you?
I’ve worked with many, many parents (mostly mothers) who tell me when they take time out for themselves they feel guilty. They feel guilty even when they’ve left their kids in the care of someone they know and trust; often the other parent. They admit though that a night out with girlfriends, or taking a class, or participating in a sport makes them feel refreshed and renewed. They have a better perspective on life and more patience.
When we put everyone’s needs ahead of our own, we start to feel something is missing in our lives and resentment takes over. A lot of moms tell me they’ve lost their sense of humor, they don’t have the patience they thought they would have and they’re yelling a lot. I’ve heard: ” I never thought I’d be this way.” When I hear that I know right away, they’ve completely bought into the notion that kids have to always come first. The truth is, in order to be the parent we want to be, and present the best of ourselves to the people we love the most, we have to put ourselves first. This does not mean at the expense of our kids, it means FOR our kids.
Am I telling you to neglect your kids so you can go out and have fun? Of course not. Taking time out for you, now requires planning. You can no longer be spontaneous in the way you could be, before. It requires prioritizing. It means giving up some things in favor of nurturing your mind, body and spirit.
I’ve given many, many workshops on this very topic and when I ask my audience how many people feel they have no life, about ninety percent raise their hand. My next question is “How does it feel to have no life?” The answers I get are: resentful, jealous of those who have a life, angry, frustrated….” I tell my audience that when you walk around with those feelings, that’s what you project on to your children. My next question is always: “What would it feel like if you had a life?” The answers I get are: I’d be more fun, more loving, more patient, less irritable….”. Don’t your kids deserve to experience you that way? How do you want them to remember you as a parent?