I stayed home a long time (to me it was long I guess because so much happened) with my son and daughter, who are now five and two. When you are there for taking care of kids all the time, or even when working full-time like I am working now and also “take care” of other people’s kids’ emotional needs (being a child and family therapist) to then come home and watch my own kids, it can be hard to remember how to just be a person. I realized when I was staying home with my kids that I was not really doing a lot during the day and often not even when they went to bed, to continue my own thoughts and interests. It started when I was a new mom and of course you want to get into that role and I have always been passionate and excited to be a mom. I additionally researched a lot of extra things since my son has Down Syndrome and some other medical issues. I spent a lot of extra time/free time making things for him to help him learn and so forth. This isn’t a bad thing to do, but also you can get burned out if you are spending all your time looking up recipes, finding fun activities to do with your own kids or group therapy ideas for your kids (or whatever you do on your own time for your work career.)
So here are some things I have been working on and have noticed my husband do (who is currently a stay at home dad for my son during the week then works as an RN on the weekends.)
1)Its something simple but something I missed and realized was missing after a few years
1)Listen to your OWN music. Everyone loves music of some kind but I feel like it was a huge deal because not just listening to , but playing music was a HUGE part of my life and free time/passion so first we moved a lot and had no room and I felt I didn’t have time anyway, for me to play piano or keyboard. I already wasn’t in band anymore after college (which is fine, fine with that season being gone haha but I miss piano!) So then I realized heck, I’m not even listening to music of mine! It is ALL Wiggles or Signing Time and now whatever Disney movie is on Netflix. I still am not great about it and even though I blog I am kind of old lady when it comes to technology so I’m like oh yea gotta as the husband about downloading Spotify….anyways folks, it matters!
2) Find some hobby that does NOT have to do with dressing your child or looking up ideas for helping your child ..writing about your child? okay so yes I do blog about my kids but I think I’ve branched to a lot of different things plus I enjoy writing/blogging so it’s not like I am totally focused on something for helping them learn or be entertained. I did knit on loom a few years ago and I think I have settled into reading fiction and writing as my go to hobbies when I’m not watching Netflix and folding laundry with my husband, or playing board games together (which is something he is mainly into but I do it too and he is on the lookout for things I would like so we have something to do together other than TV. Yes I could do outdoors things but not when hte kids are asleep right? Right. I do love walking and being outside but I’m talking stuck indoors in the trenches of pre K parenting here.
3) When you have a long weekend or extra snow day or even on a regular weekend or whatever, do not feel bad about not hovering over your child. I think people go between the extremes of ignoring their kids and starting at their phones or thinking you have to constantly be verbally imparting some wisdom or in their faces in our culture. You probably know deep down when its okay to check out mentally while supervising your kids. So, do it. I think its fine to read an article or video (probably on mute with captions!) on your phone here and there if it helps you be sane and feel like a person and not a mom/dad zombie. Also I know most probably feel just fine about this but in case you don’t , please don’t feel like you can’t do housework as long as your kids are safe. It’s hard to get done but the more you get done while they’re awake,, the more time you have to try and be a person/do your own thing and with your spouse at night. The kids help me with things. occasionally genuine help, often just them making it take a little longer but more got done than it would have if I did it ALL at night or nap. Nap is never promised in this home lol although my daughter has become much better about it since last year. That so didn’t happen when she was a little baby, not for long.
4)This is more specific and short, but stole this idea from my husband and therefore may appeal more to males. Okay I’m not saying do it ALL the time, but he has some headphones and listens to podcasts or whatever here and there while watching our son during the week (He is still attentive and doesn’t abuse this, however. But I am just saying if it keeps you sane…Here’s looking at you, parents of kids who don’t nap much or at all!
I think that’s most of my ideas but I might add more in the future if I think of more. What helps you moms and dads feel more like a person again?