I’m falling into that trap again. My kids are home all the time and I’m making it all about them. I’m not taking care of myself. I can tell. I’m getting crankier and crankier. This is a very easy trap for a parent to fall into. We think we are doing a good thing for our family. We think we are being giving and selfless. A lot of you are home working while trying to help your children with school. You may feel like you are sinking but you keep pushing yourself.
When I don’t take care of myself, I become stressed out mommy. My patience decreases. My temper increases. I even find myself in tears more often. We may think that taking time for ourselves is selfish, but it is actually the opposite. My husband and children want me to take time for myself because it makes me a happier person. They want me to be happy. When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
My husband and I went for a walk with our dog Tanner. He wasn’t very happy with me. He wanted to know why I was being so cranky! “I feel smothered,” came out of me! I couldn’t believe I just said that to him. There was no taking that back. I was hoping that this wasn’t about to start an argument. Sometimes the words come out before I think about what I’m about to say. I try so hard to think before I speak. That’s something that I continue to work on regularly. I find that an extrovert like me sometimes speaks before I think. I notice that introverts tend to take more time to think before they say something. “Can you please understand this. You go upstairs and work all day by yourself and I am never alone. I need to be alone sometimes!” He didn’t get upset with me. Seth sincerely wanted to know what has been wrong with me. Sometimes he wants to get in my shoes and figure me out. We can’t help each other if we don’t know what is going on. I don’t always realize when I’m not communicating my feelings.
I’m sure some of you can relate to me. Everywhere I go someone is there. When I go to take a little drive even my dog looks at me like “Can I come?” You know what I have to say to Tanner, “No, sorry puppy, mommy is leaving by herself for ten minutes.”
Every time I start something a sweet little voice asks me for something. I can’t seem to finish anything (motherhood), and sometimes I find it frustrating. I feed them breakfast. I help Lillie with her schoolwork. I feed them lunch. I take my dog for a walk. It’s all about everyone else and the days are going by very quickly. I’m not even sure what day it is. I know everyone is feeling the same way. We are losing track of days. We aren’t sure what time it is. We are reliving groundhog day over and over again.
I want to tell you all what I did for myself today. Maybe this will help someone:
Treadmill in the basement – Alone!
Short drive – Alone!
Puzzle time – Alone!
Some me time!!
Now tomorrow I will have more tolerance! I can guarantee that. As my family reads this blog, I don’t want them to think that they can never go for a drive or a walk with me. I don’t want them to think they can’t do a puzzle with me or can’t come in the basement when I work out. What I am saying is that sometimes mama needs alone time.
Am I happy my family is all home with me? Yes! Am I happy my family is safe? Yes? Am I happy my family is healthy? A big giant yes!! Do I feel smothered sometimes? Also, yes! It’s not either or / it’s both.
I love the family games, walks, movies, meals, and baking. I’m spending a lot of time trying to teach my 7 year old. I am neglecting myself and I know I’m not the only one! It was a build up of a lot of time ignoring myself and it is starting to bubble over into crankiness.
I was watching the news (I don’t recommend doing that) and the reporter was talking about the increase in child abuse cases. I have no doubt that child abuse and domestic violence have gone up. Families are home together all day every day. Everyone gets on each other’s nerves. How can we help to prevent this? Make sure everyone is taking some alone time for themselves! That is step number one!
I noticed that all my children are spending more time in their rooms. We are very blessed that we bought a house with four bedrooms so that all three of our kids could have their own space. It’s coming in handy right now that our children can all take a bedroom time out from the family when they need or want to! I know that when they are off alone in their room, they are telling us that they need some space. I am happy that they are able to do that. I am sad that my 13 year old son needs SO much space from the family and that he is in his room a lot. I am however happy that our home allows for him to be able to do this.
Walk away! Take a time out! Lillie, my youngest child and I can get into screaming matches if we let it happen. When my son Max is actually downstairs listening when I’m trying to teach Lillie, he sees that sometimes it goes smoothly and sometimes it doesn’t. He sees when it is heading in the wrong direction. He has stepped in many times to help her with his patient sweet voice. Max is so sweet and so patient when he is trying to teach something to Lillie. I am very thankful for every time Max or Ella step in to give me a break. Sometimes we have a great school day and it goes so well. Sometimes mama needs to walk away and that’s okay too! Sometimes Lillie is just not in the zone to do schoolwork. Guess what? I have ALL day. There isn’t a time deadline. If 11 am isn’t working, I’ll go get something done and try again later. She tends to be awake from at least 9-9 every day so I have a twelve hour window to fit in a couple of hours of schoolwork. Our typical schoolwork window is 11-1 pm. She just finished her work as I’m typing this. It was a smooth day. Lillie was in the zone and it went very well. Yesterday was a little more of a struggle and she needed a break. I need to be flexible and I need to go with the flow of the day. We have the ability to do school at any time of the day. I know that’s not true for everyone who is working and teaching, but this is true for me. I have to remember that school can take place any time of day.
Take some deep breaths and get some space from your children and or your spouse! I have had to get some space many times! I have many happy loving moments of enjoying my family. I have also had many moments where I can tell I have had little alone time and very little me time.
I have told you many times how many great ideas I get from Facebook. First, it makes me feel like I am “seeing” my friends and family. Second, the ideas of what people are doing by themselves and with their families are great. I see my friends giving themselves manicures, pedicures, taking a run, reading a book, gardening, painting, etc. I have seen several friends putting on face masks and a bathrobe and lounging in their bathroom while pretending they are at the spa. If you need a face mask or color street nail strips, I have several friends I can connect you with. I definitely need to go to my home nail salon and attempt to give myself a manicure.
Most of my blogs are for parents, but this one really truly is. I am living your life. I know it is not exactly identical to yours. I know that most of us can easily get engrossed in parenting and work and forget to take some me time. You may be asking me right now when I am expecting you to do this. My friend just told me she is working 12 hour days teaching while attempting to take care of and teach her three children. How do I expect her to take time for herself? I want you to ask yourself what you are building into your day today for yourself and when you are going to do this each day? I want you to know that you are a better teacher, mother, wife, human when you allow yourself to do this. Your children, your students, your spouse, your employees, your coworkers, can all do without you for 30 minutes of me time.
We are all out of our daily routines. My husband has taken over our bedroom working. He brought a desk and his work computer home and moved it into our bedroom. He sees it all the time now. He can’t physically leave work anymore. He would go to work, come home, and not have access to his work computer. He would do work on his home computer or his phone, but it wasn’t as much as it is now with his work computer at home. I find him in our room working all the time. He sleeps next to his work computer. It is on his mind more. He isn’t getting up and walking around during the day anymore. He sits at his computer all day. He is totally out of his normal routine. He came downstairs holding his neck the other day. I rubbed him and reminded him that he can’t just sit at his computer bent over looking at his screen all day. He needs to stretch. He needs to get up and walk around. He needs to come downstairs and get away from his computer. I realize Seth may be working a lot more and I also realize when he goes upstairs and closes our bedroom door, he is also telling the four of us not to come in. That can be a good thing for him too. I am extremely thankful that Seth is able to work. If I could add on to my house right now I would add on a nice big office for him so his work life wasn’t in our bedroom.
We need to evaluate our different life right now and what isn’t working for us. It’s not working for Seth that he is sitting staring at his computer all the time. It isn’t working for me that I am never, ever alone. Trust me, I feel for anyone who is feeling lonely right now. I am lonely for people who don’t live in my house. Face time and texting is definitely helping me to stay connected. Hearing teachers voices in my home on Zoom is helping me feel connected. Sometimes I need to not be connecting and to be taking some alone time for myself. Right now, I am going to stop typing and go jog on my treadmill. I hope you will also take my advice and take some time for you today. You deserve it. I would love for you all to share some ideas with me of how you are taking time for yourself if you are home with a full house like I am.
Laughing, Loving, Learning,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R