If you are a parent with children under 12, you are probably a bit like the majority of parents out there- busy working (either in or out of the home), rushing from one activity or mealtime to the next. With most of your waking life centred around your family and their needs and probably very little of your time centred around you.
If your children are like mine, they probably have several hobbies on the go (along with a busy school calendar, numerous play dates and party invites) and are always keen to try new activities. Endless hours spent at soccer practice, GAA, art class, swimming and music lessons. I don't mind this and accept it as a part of modern parenting. But sometimes I ask myself when did life become so busy? When did it become normal that my child has more of a social life than me?
I think it is wonderful to see children enjoying and thriving in their chosen activities. Like all parents, you want your children to have the very best opportunities in life and experiences. But, don’t you find it hard to find even a moment for yourself in such a busy scheduled life?
Maybe it is time to put the pen down and the credit card away and just stop over scheduling the lives of our children and start focusing on letting them have down time again. Let them feel bored. Let them take to the streets and play in the fresh air. Let them experience childhood like we did, carefree and not bound by time or structure. Let us as parents reclaim some of that time for ourselves to do things that we want to do.
It may seem like a long way off now if your children are small, but before you know it, they will have grown up and moved on leaving us parents with a life of our own that we do not recognise. This got me thinking, when was the last time that I took time for myself? Learnt a new skill or tried a new hobby? I will always find the time, the money or the way to get my kids to their latest activity but I never prioritise the same things for myself. Why is this?
I have decided this has to end. Surely one of the best investments we can make as parents is an investment in ourselves. After all, I do believe that a happy parent equals a happy house. Lifelong learning helps to connect us with other like-minded people. It helps to challenge ourselves and develop and grow as a person. Carving out a bit of 'me' time in the busy week was once possible, so why can't it be the same again if I want it enough?
When did my needs drop to the bottom of the pile? Surely I can find the time to read a book, pick up a new craft or take a new course?
I am confident that showing our children we are never too old to learn something new or put our own needs to the top of the pile every now and again can only be a positive thing. It helps to build our own self confidence and theirs. It also helps us to identify a separate persona aside from that of ‘parent’. Surely we all deserve a bit of time to ourselves every now and again.