Admit it! No matter how much you love your kids, it’s not healthy to concentrate on them every moment of every day. I can already hear the groans of some of you. “Why have kids if you don’t devote your life to them?” And, I agree – one hundred percent. I also think that some time devoted to your own interests makes for a much more interesting and able parent.
I know you’ve seen those parents whose lives revolve around their kids. Their friends are the parents of their kids’ friends. Their activities are their kids’ activities. They spend so much time being involved that their identities are defined by it. And, I know you’ve seen those parents who barely know their kids’ names. They are the ones who never show up at dance recitals or ball games. I propose that there is a happy medium. And, it sometimes takes work to achieve that medium status.
I’m one of those moms that struggles to find the middle of the road. My kids have required so much time and attention. It takes time to go to all the doctor, psychiatric, therapy, and legal appointments, and that doesn’t even include the extracurricular activities. I’m an overachiever by nature, so I have also worked long hours, gone to graduate school, and volunteered my time in a number of non-profit groups.
People who know me ask where I find the energy. To be honest, I don’t know. What I do know is that I enjoy being busy. And, I have found that no matter how much I try to make everyone happy, there’s always room to find fault.
Another thing I discovered some years ago, is that I’m much more effective if I take time for myself. So today, I’m sitting in our beach house. This is an annual trip for me. I come to do some Christmas shopping at the outlets. I come to get a break from the day-to-day routine. And, for me, it has become a necessity
It’s important to be involved in your children’s lives. You need to show them support and know their friends. And, every so often, it’s important to take time for yourself. It’s important to do things that make you a more interesting person and keep your spirits high. Because, no matter how you do it, there will come a day when your children will leave home and start to live their own lives.
That’s what they’re supposed to do. Our job as parents is to teach our children how to be successful adults. That’s it. And, to do that successfully, we need to be able to show our kids that we are successful adults. Indulging in our own interests is part of that process.
So, take some time to indulge yourself. Maybe that means you go to the gym every morning. It might mean that you go out with friends without the kids once in a while. And, like me, it could mean that you take a long weekend off from work and spend it doing things you enjoy.
Whatever taking care of yourself means to you is what you should do. You’ll return a happier, healthier parent than you were before.
Rev. Kelly Crenshaw is the mom of 16 adopted kids, two biological kids, guardian of one baby girl and foster mom of dozens. Some are lesbian, some gay, some straight, and some bisexual. Kelly founded a K-12 day school where kids could have a safe, bully-free environment for learning. She is co-owner of a counseling agency that works with children and their families. Send your parenting questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.