You are woken at 5am. You manage to settle your little one and crawl back to bed. It’s getting light and you can’t sleep. You sit up in bed and go through email on your phone until it’s time to get up and shower before the children are awake and meeting any of your own needs becomes impossible. You get out of the shower just as your child(ren) wake up. You stand shivering in just a towel giving cuddles and passing out toys to pacify the child who just wants to be held whilst you the juggle getting dressed. Your child doesn’t want to get dressed. They want to roll on the floor/get into your bed/play with their cars but putting clothes on is no fun at all. You have been up two hours, need breakfast and are on a deadline. You savour the precious moment of having a car race down the hall even though you know it will make you late, Finally clothes are on, cornflakes are all over the kitchen floor (at least the dog is happy!) and you all sit down for breakfast. Today is a work day and you feel sad about having to leave the children especially as you had such an amazing time with them yesterday at the park. So it is with a slightly heavy heart that you drop them off on the way out (having negotiated a minor meltdown over putting on shoes and a heartwarming moment when your older child helps the baby put on their coat). By the time you arrive at work you are exhausted, having already done a full day’s work.
Your day at work is busy but you do savour the moment when you go to the loo without anyone coming in to show you their latest toy/demand to be picked up/ask a burning question about snot. You also get to drink a cup of coffee whilst it is still hot as you sit in a meeting. The meeting drags on but you take the chance to work on your pelvic floor/design a reward chart/plan your next blog to make the most of the time.
You pick up the children on the way home and they are please to see you. That makes your day. They chat about their day but are tired and hungry so tears are close to the surface. You rush to get a meal with a small child on your hip and are grateful you organised the meal and prepared it last night. You dish up a relatively nutritious meal and all sit down together. There then follows the amusing, but time wasting naked run around the house whilst the bath is running and the inevitable battle over teeth cleaning. You really must finish that reward chart for tomorrow. Story time is a wonderful part of the day, with the children ready for bed and all snugly. Then you kiss them, give them water, return to give further kisses, sing a song and tuck them in, and return one more time just to let them tell you they love you. You savour the moment and tell them you love them. You are very keen to sit down and relax.
However, you first need to clean up after tea, put the washing on and pack the changing bag for the next day. It’s 9pm before you finally sit down and you know really you should go to bed before you get sucked into something on the TV, but really you just need some downtime to let your brain relax before bed. You crawl up to bed later and remember you still haven’t made that reward chart. Oh well, tomorrow is another day…
It doesn’t need much narrative, just with the joys and challenges of being a parent looking after yourself is important too. At Headspace Guildford I often see parents who are frazzled trying to meet the needs of their children, and neglecting their own. It’s very difficult to put yourself first and it is definitely a balancing act, but it is also important to remember that you can only meet the physical and emotional needs of your children if you yourself are on an even keel too. Otherwise we are grumpy and tired ourselves which is a recipe for a tricky bedtime/morning/anytime meltdown.
So savour the hot cup of coffee and the peace in the toilet. Make the most of the 10 minutes you get when the children are occupied, see your friends, take offers of help and don’t worry about the cobwebs in the corner. Savour too the moments of joy in your life – notice the shared moments which are so special. These small things are the keys to happiness.