If you’re too busy to revel in your child’s natural joy, you’re turning up your nose at the fuel that keeps you going as a parent. What happened to that joyful, exuberant person inside you? He or she is your antidote to burnout.
- Before you pick up your child at daycare, or walk into the house, stop.
Take a deep breath and ask yourself “What do you need right now, my love?” Listen to whatever answer pops up. Make a deal with yourself about when you can meet that need, and how you will do it. For instance, if the answer you hear is “comfort”, you’ll want to find a way to work some snuggle time with your child and/or your spouse into your evening. If the answer is “a break!”, you may want to order pizza for dinner and put everyone to bed early so you can take a long bath.
Of course, if you get the same answer every day, you may need to make some structural changes in your life.
- Slow down and show up.
Often we’re so focused on the list that we forget to really live. But this is the only chance you get in this body, and your child really will be grown in the blink of an eye. If you’re too busy to revel in your child’s natural joy, you’re turning up your nose at the fuel that keeps you going as a parent. What happened to that joyful, exuberant person inside you? He or she is your antidote to burnout. Yes, your family and household will demand every moment you have. But many of those moments are full of joy, if you choose to simply enjoy them, and let the pressure go for a bit. Your life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to soak in every moment of goodness you can.
- Parent yourself.
Whose job is it to nurture you? Yours. Spouses, partners, friends and families are companions on the journey, but we can only take in from them what we’re able to give to ourselves. If you weren’t nurtured enough as a little one, this may take some learning. Start by talking to yourself like someone you love. Nurture yourself through the hard times. Acknowledge just how hard it all is, and how hard you try. You don’t need to be perfect. You are more than enough, exactly as you are. You deserve all the tenderness you would shower on a newborn baby.
If you weren’t nurtured enough as a little one, this may take some learning. Start by talking to yourself like someone you love.
Giving that love to ourselves transforms our parenting — and our lives. OK, so when the baby’s crying and you yourself need a good cry, it’s true that the baby comes first. But tuning into yourself and embracing yourself with love at the same time–and crying, if you need to–will make you both feel better.
For today, just notice your internal barometer as you put yourself back on your list. 1 is depleted, 10 is a full cup. How are you doing? What one thing can you do right now to give yourself more support?
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Dr. Laura Markham is the author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How To Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends For Life and Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. Find her online at AhaParenting.com