Would you do it?
We hear it all the time. We believe it to be true. But most of the time, we don’t do it. Flight attendants remind us of this on every flight we take, “Put on your oxygen mask before assisting others.” We are supposed to take care of ourselves before we are able to effectively take care of others, but I wonder, would I do it? Would I put my oxygen mask on first before assisting my son? I actually don’t think so.
Do our kids matter more?
As parents, we have a tendency to put ourselves last. To never eat a meal or drink our coffee while it’s still hot. We make sure our kids are bathed and ready for the day and we may skip our own shower. We buy them new clothes and toys, but when was the last time we splurged on a new outfit for ourselves? I think as parents, we often get in the trap of taking care of the kids first. We tell ourselves “it’s fine, they need it more than I do.” And then one day, or several days in a row, we feel spent. Burnt out. We are convinced we need alone time and a break from our kids. It’s no wonder we become numb to our emotions or even know what we are feeling half the time as we are constantly catering to our little one’s emotions. Or is that just me?
Can you protect the couple?
When I started this blog almost 3 years ago now, I talked about protecting the couple that created the baby. That without protection of that love, the love that created the child, there would be no child in the first place, so you must protect the original love. I talked about date nights, whether going out or staying in, and the importance of spending time with just you and your partner. And then my then baby started moving. Starting walking and talking. He turned into a toddler who had needs that he was verbal about, and that all went out the window. In one way, I think I got wrapped up in the everyday hassles of being a new mom and wanting to provide the best life for my child. In another, I loved being a mom and I didn’t want time away from him. It may have been fear, but most of the time, I truly didn’t want time away from him.
I mean, it’s Pearl Jam.
Sure there were moments I fantasized about it, but when the time came to really go to Chicago for a Pearl Jam concert with my husband, I graciously gave my ticket away. I wasn’t ready to leave my son. So I started following families I admire and have talked about on this blog, and I tried to figure out how to still take care of myself while my son was in my presence. How to have “me” time even if I wasn’t alone. How to workout, read, write, shower, and even spend time with friends while my son was with me. It may sound strange to some mainstream parents, but I do have a strong belief you do not need to be alone to take care of yourself.
Might as well drive across the country.
Fast forward until recently when a friend needed my help. It involved driving across the country, packing up a house full of boxes, loading the truck up, and driving back. It sounded amazing. Four days of travel, adventure, helping out a friend, spending time with my best friend without kids, and I knew I wanted to go. I knew I “needed” it. Yet, a few days before leaving, I started doubting it. How would my son do without me there for 4 days? I have never left him for this long. How would I do missing him every day? What if something happened to me or him while I was gone? I was nervous the fear was going to over take me. Then I heard the flight attendant’s voice in my head, “Put on your oxygen mask first.” I knew I had to go.
Road trips are really the best therapy.
I called my friend and I told her how nervous I really was, but that I wanted to go, so she had to tell me everything was going to be okay. Even if she didn’t mean it. And she did a wonderful job because a few days later as I drove away from home to meet her at a Park N Ride, I was excited. I felt that rush of excitement you get when going on a road trip in college. When you don’t care how long you are in the car for because you know the ride will be just as fun as the destination. Some of my best memories of road trips are the actual drive itself. You remember those days. Windows down, music up, car packed with as many people as there are seat belts, unhealthy snacks, and not a care in the world. Go back there for a moment. Breathe it in. Because you can still have road trips like this! They are the best medicine for your soul.
Alone and together, both are essential.
That road trip was just as I had hoped. It was filled with laughter, tears, singing our hearts out, some heavy lifting, some delicious food, and some much needed time away from kids. I still believe in combining all that juicy self care even when you are taking care of your kids, but sometimes, we all need a little vacation. Sometimes that vacation is the 5 minutes we spend alone in the shower or the 30 minute podcast we listen to with our air pods in as we sit next to our kids who are playing on the floor. Other times it is yoga as our little ones crawl on us or it could be sipping a latte across the county with your best friend while your kids are at home. Whatever type of vacation, staycation, or self care you crave, you can do it and you must do it! With most of us spending the majority of our time at home, we must find a way.
How do you take care of you while being home with kids? Or what do you do when you get a day away? Share your stories with us so we can all be inspired!
Kathryn Kraft, MPT
If you've related to and/or enjoyed this post, please leave a comment, like our Facebook page, follow us on Instagram @liveforempoweringkids, listen to our podcast LIVEfor Empowering Kids, and share with a friend! It always feels good to unite with other parents/caregivers out there and share your story! Keep on living for what makes you survive and thrive!