Whether you are a stay at home parent, a working parent, or a “little bit of both” parent, our kids going back to school brings back a wide variety of emotions. For most, it is joy. You did it! You made it through another summer of getting snacks, endless activities, boredom, chores, sleeping in, traveling, and all the sibling fighting! Pat yourself on the back. Cheers yourself. In addition to joy, or maybe in place of, parents can feel anxious, sadness, fear, or maybe even jealousy. Do any of these emotions reside with you?
Our emotions can be confusing at times, maybe you are feeling all of them but don’t know how to regulate them. Let yourself feel whatever feeling you are feeling. It’s okay to cry in the parking lot driving away, it’s okay to have a mini party once your kids walk into their classroom, it’s okay to check the time throughout the day because you can’t wait for pick up, and it’s okay to not know how to talk to your kids about the importance of safety at school. It’s all okay. We are just trying to take it day by day and make it work. That. Is. Parenting. But in the midst of figuring out how to make our kids’ lives as smooth as possible, what about us?
Would it make us horrible parents to focus on US a few times a week/month? Would it be earthshattering to have our kids stay at daycare for an extra 10 minutes so we can stop and get a coffee in silence? Or taking our kids to the gym’s kids club after work so we can have an hour of time to focus on us? Or (gasp) taking time to get our nails done, get a massage, take a yoga class, while leaving them at home with dad, mom, grandma, auntie, best friends, etc.? But, I understand. I really do. The guilt is real. If we are a working parent, how could we be away from our kids for another minute while we are off work? Or if we are a stay at home parent, how could we ask for help from anyone when we do it ourselves 24/7? The answer is you can. You can take time for you. You can get a babysitter or a friend or a spouse to take the kids so you can regroup and allow yourself to enjoy yourself (or your significant other) from time to time.
In a recent survey posted in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, statistics showed that “close to 13% of the parents surveyed, 12.9% of mothers and 11.6% of fathers, had what the researchers called ‘high burnout’.” This means that those parents felt exhausted, less productive and competent and emotionally withdrawn—at least once a week. ONCE A WEEK. It makes sense to me because frankly, parenting is hard. But what if we could spread that statistic out a bit to once every 10 days, or once every few weeks, or once a month by focusing on ourselves a few hours each week. Or maybe even once a day.
Truth moment. I felt like this, sometimes I still do. I was drowning with my 3 year old and my newborn baby, who was a preemie and spent time in the NICU. I was trying to be everything for everyone until I realized that I couldn’t. Not because I didn’t want to, because I wanted nothing more than to be what everyone needed, but because I was not the best version of myself. I had nothing for me other than being “mommy” and “honey”. After this realization, I did it. I went back to doing what I loved to do (pre kids); CrossFit. It is my passion, my thing, my therapy. I bring my kids to kids club, and mamma gets an hour to herself. Now, you don’t have to go and join the nearest CrossFit gym (unless you want to), but you should find something that you love and go for it! The moral of my story is to focus on you and do something that makes you happy. You are allowed to enjoy this life just as much as you try to make your kids enjoy it.
If you have any questions, or comments, or are looking for support, please reach out to Chelsea Bristow, NLC, MS., at (720) 923-2328 to schedule an appointment.