You can't sleep at the parenting wheel

You can't sleep at the parenting wheel

Marriage & The Family

Shelly Ann HARRIS

Monday, November 30, 2020

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IF you are broke or have no job, you still must find a way to feed your kids. If you are sick and need rest, you must take your toddler to the bathroom to use the potty. If you worked all week to complete a project for work and didn't get a chance to finish helping your child to prepare for an important exam at school on Monday, they won't delay the exam so that you can get in a couple more days with the child. Yes, others can and should chip in to help lighten the load.

Grandparents, aunties, friends and the rest of the village should and do chip in. But this Parents' Month, we are reminded that the responsibility is that of the parents and when we fail the consequences are significant. So what can we do to ensure that we are always equal to the task?

Decide to take care of yourself first

Parents face endless demands from children daily and meeting these needs is very important. However, one of the best gifts you can give your children is the modelling of self-care. They should see you taking care of yourself and fulfilling your calling. Ideally that should be one of your first priorities — similar to the airline instruction for adults to put on their oxygen masks first before attempting to put on a child's. If you are not strong and well, you can't give the best care to your children. So ideally you should take care of yourself first. Of course this is easier said than done and is largely impractical, especially if you have to choose between eating or attending to the crying, hungry, screaming child standing in front of you. Or if you have to choose between paying your children's CXC/CAPE fees and the postgraduate course you always wanted to do. It's not straightforward I know, but even if you can't be first on your list, make sure that your own care and development are in fact on the list and that those items also get checked!

Self-care time

Take time out to unwind and relax away from the kids. Of course this can involve going for a walk, playing music, driving to the country, engaging in meditation or just reading the newspaper with your favourite beverage. I like to take some time away at the beach, alone. It has traditionally been a great way to 'fill my cup'. But it doesn't need to be a 'production' — self-care can simply mean going to bed on time, applying lotion to your hands and feet, and taking your vitamins every day.

Start earlier

We all know this to be true — the early bird catches the most worms! This doesn't necessarily mean getting up in the wee hours of the morning (although that's an excellent habit). But it does mean just starting that to-do list earlier. Starting earlier will enable you to maximise the day and have more time for your own goals and self-care.

Make a plan

If you fail to plan you plan to fail, so schedule parenting duties in the same way you schedule other important activities like a doctor's appointment.

How else can parents ensure that they are equal to the task of parenting?

Mother of four girls, Shelly-Ann Harris is an author, media and communication expert, change management professional and president & founder of Family and Faith Magazine. Connect with her on Twitter @Harrisshellyann

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