As parents I believe the majority of us are all about our children, all the time – to the point where we will often forego anything for ourselves. At the risk of being considered selfish, I assert this is in NO ONE’S best interests. If we don’t take care of ourselves we could potentially be making things worse later for our children.
This encompasses a LOT. For starters, we need to make time for ourselves – to exercise, spend time with friends (w/o children) and decompress. Saying “I can’t” is not an option, the bottom line is if we want to be our best for our children we MUST make time for this. Make it important and you’ll find a way; after all think about ALL the things you’ve been able to make the time for when it comes to your child(ren).
It also means saving for YOUR future and ensuring you are protected now. I’m just as guilty about stating “I don’t have the money”; but the reality is I (and you) cannot afford not to save. If your situation is similar to mine it’s unlikely your child is going to ever make enough money to support both you and them; so it’s critical you plan for when you can’t work any longer – because you retire, medically can’t or nobody will hire you (it happens).
Insurance is not a favorite topic of mine, but it’s a necessary evil. It is much less expensive to pay an insurance premium than to self-fund whatever calamity befalls you – from a tree branch going through a window to a debilitating illness requiring outside care. Ignoring it until it becomes necessary is a sure fire way to ensure you either can’t get it, or if an agency will issue it you won’t be able to afford the premiums they charge.
I recognize it’s a balancing act, all these competing priorities – but you simply cannot take the “easy” way out and put your child first all the time. You’re just setting yourself up for failure. As a parent I want to give my son the world, but sometimes it’s in our best interest to make him “go without” so I can take care of something much less fun, or something that will keep him “happy”.
I don’t know anyone’s situation but my own and those I’ve already worked with; I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers for everyone. However, in my experience the majority of us could stand to do more for ourselves, and I stand by this. If you are shaking your head and telling yourself “he just doesn’t understand what I’m dealing with” you are EXACTLY who I am talking to!
Think about when you have “dead time” – we all do, but most of us don’t recognize it as such because we’re too focused on everything we need to accomplish in a day. This leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed and not having enough time in the day. So try something different. Warning – this is going to seem like extra work, and at first it is; but the exercise will help you make time for yourself. Write down everything you “have to do”. It’s probably going to look incredibly daunting, so this next part is important.
Put an asterisk or highlight what absolutely MUST be done today. If you highlight or asterisk everything you’re not being realistic or honest with yourself (although the first couple times this is exactly what I did). Define time periods for yourself – for example: for me early morning is 4 – 7, morning is 7 – 11, early afternoon is noon – 3, afternoon is 3 – 6, early evening is 6 – 7 and evening is 7 -9. Now that you have what “must” be done, put down if it will be done in the early morning, mid-morning, early afternoon, afternoon, early evening or evening.
Yes, I deliberately omitted 11 – noon; this builds in time for myself to “catch up” if I need it. Blocking these time periods will also help you determine how long something takes. If you’re doing laundry, take a bath while your clothes are in the dryer – you’ll have at least 45 minutes to just relax. Bring a book, listen to music or just breathe – you’re family will thank you.
I used my Google calendar when I first started, but a day planner would work just as well. Anything to give you the visual and take it out of your head; the objective is reducing the amount of things you are thinking about to help you become less overwhelmed. My time slots don’t have to be used, they’re simply a suggestion to get you started. Good luck.