I am blessed with a sister-in-law that I can talk to like the sister I don’t have – on the topics of fashion, being parents, and keeping ourselves up to par. She is quite a bit younger than me, but I have a great deal of respect for her.
We each have different parenting styles, but yet we have the same roots pretty much. We are able to bounce parenting ideas off of each other, and share our latest dilemma, LOL moments with our child, or ask what should we do about the latest mind-boggling household whatever?
I feel like the lucky one because she had a child before me, so she has been through a lot of what I am going through. Also, I’m really impressed with how my nephew has turned out, so I feel safe taking her advice. Recently, she had twin girls, so she is super busy, and we don’t get to communicate as much.
Intermission: If someone’s family is not what you wish your family to be, be careful with the amount of time you give that person. Time is precious, and our children are more precious. I learned the hard way. You could be spending that time with family, and whether you believe it or not you are absorbing their attitude. That’s my two cents.
Anyway, one day I was crying on my sister-in-law’s shoulder about I forgot what Mom topic, and she goes, “Well Shelly, I guess that’s one of the differences between us. You changed your whole life when you had kids, and my kid has had to adapt and fit into our life.”
My first response was, “Well, I wasn’t really living a life or creating an environment that I wanted to bring children into! Now I’m trying to do that.” We continued to talk, and after she left, her comment has played in my head often.
One thing was certain. She was definitely right. Not that I didn’t know this before, but it was getting the best of me. I was at an all-time low. After almost four years of being a mom, I did not feel good about myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I felt fantabulous about my kids. They were top notch, but why wouldn’t they be when someone put as many hours into them as I had. In doing so, I had lost myself, and it was taking its toll.
It left me pondering: What do I need to do to be the best I can be for my family and me? Of course, I decided to research it.
The consistent threads that stood out to me in my research were all about…
Self-Love for Parents
- You have got to keep your own cup filled and take care of yourself. Families with parents who show self-love seem to be the happiest because they are able to pour more into everyone else since they are taken care of. Do not wait for anyone else to show up on a white horse and make it better. YOU have to TAKE ACTION!
- Parents need to have their hobbies. This is also good examples for children to see.
- Parents need to get away with each other and leave the kids every once in a while for weekends and when kids are ready, a week. Couples who do date nights at least once or twice a month seem to keep the healthiest relationships and have stronger marriages.
- Parents should still have goals besides family life, and children should know about those goals and how they are being reached. Ex: volunteer work, marathons, climbing a mountain, learning an instrument, getting a degree, read the Bible daily
- Parents should continue to fulfill their souls calling also known as their life purpose. Find a way! The kids will survive. Better yet, if Mom and Dad are successfully achieving their purpose, the children will thrive.
The above bullets were nowhere in my life. Quitting a job that I wanted to do since I was 3 and all of my hobbies are just some of the things I gave up when having kids. I quit quite a few sinful habits that honestly – I enjoyed! All my husband and I talked about were the kids. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. The kids, 24-7-365!
My Excuses for Myself
I had read the words in the above five bullets probably 100 times over the past four years in some form or fashion. I remember even thinking as I read it:
- It would be selfish. I don’t have time for myself. You’re supposed to put others first.
- Serving my family is my purpose.
- I will pray myself out of this depression.
- My children came later in life. I did plenty of “living” before they came. Now I need to give my all to them.
- My kids are young. They need me all the time.
It wasn’t until I was at this low and had nothing else to give that I actually read and comprehended the words.
I started to take in the self-care tips. The words leaped off the screen and screamed, “This is not you! It needs to be you! Time is passing, Shelly, and things aren’t getting better!” I talked about it in my interview, Making FUN a Part of Your Family Culture.
I am by no means where I hope to get, but I am on my way to recovery. I now believe that you can give your all to parenting without losing yourself. Chris started working out, and I started This -N- That Parenting which encompasses 4 of the bullets for me. In a very short amount of time, I feel more serene, cheerful and content.
Parents Call to Action
Parents have got to keep a balance in our lives as to how much we “give” to our families. I know. Eye roll! You can spend a lifetime trying to find balance. How about as parents, we have got to put ourselves into the equation of who we serve.
If you’re like us and you gave up a lifestyle that wasn’t what you wanted your kids to experience, then replace it with something positive for yourself. Trade bad habits for good habits. Include your kids in your hobbies. Our kids love to be involved in our activities.
We need to check in with ourselves every once in a while. Ask our souls what it is they need. Whatever it answers – do it -as long as it is legal and sinless!
Self-care is the best thing we can do for everyone involved. If you are hearing the whisper, “Is this all there is to life? You were meant for more!” Then find out what it is and get started. You owe it to yourselves and to those who will benefit from you sharing your zone of genius.
Most important for you to come to terms with: Just because you do any of the above 5 bullets, does NOT mean you love your family any less. You are modeling physical and emotional healthiness!
**Footnote: There are women who believe their calling and purpose is to be a mom and nothing else.(Click to read an article on that topic) For me, my most important job on Earth is to be a wife and a mom. But it is just part of my identity and not my only purpose.
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Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours! Remember to have fun, laugh and give God the glory! I