I usually make the standard parenting resolutions for the new year … get the kids eating healthier, teach them to ride bikes, read more parenting books. But after a pretty gruelling year on the parenting front, my resolutions for 2018 are going to be focussed on being a little more selfish.
It has been a great year, but now we’re at the end of it I feel like a burnt out mess. Throughout the year, I was so busy running around after the kids and working through my to-do lists that I forgot how to actually enjoy my family. Time with my kids became all about homework and cleaning up after them, and I would fall asleep on the couch every night, too tired to spend time with my husband. Time for myself was a complete joke, and my health needs were pushed to the backburner while I focused on the kids.
I may have got away with running myself into the ground back in my younger years, but this having kids thing ages you. A few nights without enough sleep and my body starts telling me about it. Too much stress and no down-time? Makes for an anxious and snappy mum that no one wants to be around.
New year is going to be different. It has to be different. I want to enjoy my beautiful family and stay healthy and happy despite managing a hectic schedule. I also have this fantasy about having a bath. About four years ago, I asked my mum to buy me one of those bath shelves that you hang over the bath and put your book and glass of wine on. I pictured getting all the kids to bed and running a steaming bath with essential oils and bath salts that smell and feel amazing. I’d light some candles, maybe even play some music and just melt in to relaxed oblivion until my fingers and toes shrivelled up from the water. I’d emerge clean and refreshed, the day’s stresses having completely disappeared.
It’s been four years and the bath still hasn’t happened. I haven’t even taken the shelf thingy out of the box.
The fact that I’ve never factored in a relaxing bath for myself despite how much I know it would benefit me says it all: I’m too busy putting everything else before me, and this is affecting the way I parent. I’m coming off short-tempered and irritable and it’s the last person I want to be for my children. The way I look at it, is that to be the mum I really want to be – warm, available and fun – I need to take care of myself. So my new year resolutions are going to be focused on me – so I can be better for them.
Ladies, it’s time to start having baths.
Here is what I plan to put in place for 2018 to make sure they and a few other things start happening more often:
1. Be KIND
No, not to other people. I’m NICE to everyone around me, just not so much to myself. I would never talk to my friends the way I sometimes talk to myself. I can be critical, judgmental and harsh about everything I do. I’m going to replace it with the things I tell other mums, like: ‘I’m doing a great job’, ‘My kids are lucky to have me’ and ‘I ROCK‘.
2. Put self-care on the calendar
I know I’m not the only mum who leaves self-care until an opportunity for it presents itself. The problem is that this magic block of free time never actually comes along. If I’m serious about looking after myself, that means scheduling it in and protecting if fiercely, which is where being selfish comes into it.
3. Make time count
Sometimes I get to the end of the week and think about the time I’ve spent with my kids, and all I can recall are the times I’ve been hassling them to do their homework, tidy up their toys or put their shoes on. This is not the parent I want to be. Just like self-care time, I’m going to start scheduling in quality time with each of my kids that we can both enjoy.
4. Bring date nights back
Before life got so crazy, my husband and I used to have regular date nights where we’d pop out for drinks and dinner, and spend time talking to each other about things other than the kids. Somehow this has been swept aside and we’ve been too exhausted to get this happening again, which can put emotional distance between us. This year, I’m going to make it a priority.
5. Stuff for me
I was a person before I had kids. I had interests, passions and hobbies, but you wouldn’t know it these days because I’ve been so caught up in my kids’ lives that I haven’t had the chance to hang on to my own interests and activities. That’s got to change. I’ve got a stack of fiction books I want to read and I’d love to start going to markets again. The kids can still be involved with these things, so they won’t miss out on me. They’d probably end up with broadened horizons if we started doing things I enjoyed too.
6. Keep it simple
Life can be so damn busy. This year flew past me with such haste and hustle bustle that I barely remember it happening. I know I was there on some level, because it was me ferrying them to and from school, making school lunches and desperately trying to stay on top of homework and school activities. This year, I’m taking my foot off the accelerator and slowing everything down as much as humanly possible. No unnecessary errands, activities or lessons. I just want to enjoy downtime with my kids, simple style.