Parenting is a challenging job. It might sound harsh to some, but yes, it is a “job” because after all it is a kind of work that involves providing for services for another entity altogether. In fact, the service demand doesn’t come with a 9-5 clock timing, but rather in the form of a rigorous 24*7 spontaneous routine work!
Exhaustion, lethargy and boredom are few elements, which usually sink in at some of point of time, while performing a routine job, but motherhood is a kind of work, which involves high attention, high energy and super-excitement with every passing age and stage of a child’s progress.
No matter how much highly charged we are, there’s no denial that the above mentioned elements do sink at some stage. Not to mention the quantum of guilt that follows soon after.
We tend to put in so much, do so many things singlehandedly (all in the name of being a good mother or rather a super woman) that we exhaust ourselves. There are times when we want “me” time, but we don’t do anything.
There are times, when we just want to enjoy doing nothing and then maybe followed by pursuing one of our passions.
However, do we actually do things that define “us” and not the “mom” is us?
When was the last time, we spent time on ourselves, for things that we truly enjoyed (sans guilt)? I don’t think we do much. In fact, we get so bogged down, sometimes disgusted by the idea of taking even an hour for ourselves that we screw up the idea of “me-time” ourselves.
This is doing more damage to our kids than actually you would believe. I know I will have to take you through, to point out how actually you could be damaging your kids.
Staying comfortable with yourself is crucial to teach kids to enjoy their time alone.
Are you upset about the fact that you kid is not learning how to soothe self and needs myriad activities or digital screens to self-entertain? How will they if they don’t’ see you doing the same?
As parents, we are half the time moving at a frenetic pace, hardly stopping to have a meal at leisurely pace or even to gaze at the view outside the balcony. We have myriad peeps, tweets, buzz and rings to so many devices that we fail to pay attention to the most profound gadget that we own, our body and mind.
Try to take off at least 15 minutes, disengaged from external stimuli, to enjoy doing nothing, but to enjoy yourself. Most importantly, let your child see you doing this. He will stay curious to look at what and how you are doing something that involves nothing. Don’t forget children learn by example. If we fail to help our children learn how to be alone, they will always be lonely.
Teach the kids to be quiet for some time, in the event of some unpleasantness. Tell them to describe how they feel. Don’t put in words just too soon based on your assumptions. Let the child explore and describe his situation to you.
Only when we are comfortable in our own skin, we will attract and sustain healthy relationships.
Some people assume pairing up with a romantic partner or spending time with friends will alleviate those feelings of loneliness. It might, but temporarily. This acts as a distracting method and not as a sustainable solution in the long run. Chasing after someone to fill those empty spaces in our hearts will only create more problems and less solutions.
Children need to understand that they can be truly independent (per se) without needing something or someone to drown out that noise of discontent of boredom.
Pursue your passions to know yourself better
When you find time to pursue your passions like painting, reading or gardening, and allow children to see this, they understand that learning is an integral part of life.
This might sound like a piece of other-worldly advice, but it is for you to experience the real. As a mother, when I indulge doing nothing or when I unplug the electronic devices, sit with myself to read or write, I see myself in a different light. I start appreciating myself a little more, turn more accepting and less critical towards my issues. I turn more benevolent and work on devising ways to improvise with care. This care and appreciation towards self is what makes children to appreciate themselves.
Let them sit quietly and figure out their natural inclinations towards things rather than you turning them in some direction. Let the child learn to do the thinking for self. This process will help children to develop a sense of self and worth.
In a world of criticism and negative feedback, a sense of self and worth can be achieved if we equip our kids to love and appreciate themselves.
Create a tribe to share responsibilities
As a parent you need to muster the courage and cross over that ego barrier, to talk to other like-minded parents, with whom you can share responsibilities. No matter how much you crave to live up to the definition of being a solo parent (and a good one at that), you won’t be able to bring it all together.
It is essential that as a parent, we build a tribe to make this journey of parenting a fulfilling and enriching experience and which won’t happen if you don’t go out and seek help.
Be it a set of close knit, like-minded friends or a family member living close by, the help can be received from many areas. All you have to do is shed your ego and ask for help.
In our age of nuclear families, or apartment culture, this is all we have got, so there should be no shame for asking for help. Remember, we are teaching our children to ask for help, to only make certain things better. If we remain all held up and closed in our cubicle, we will suffocate and we will teach them to suffocate and perish, rather than asking for help. And certainly this is not what we want for our kids!
Children, who feel they are a part of community grow up feeling anchored.
Remember the famous African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Well, it stands true in every sense of the work. Children, who are a part of a large community or people sharing parenting duties, feel more cared, belonged and secure.
Hence, as a parent (living in nuclear family), it is crucial to plan ways to spend time with like-hearted parents with kids in similar age group or friends and partners, who are willing to support each other in times of despair, respite and give us some time to recharge.
However, it should be ensured that kids are not getting upset with the company. Their safety and security is something that need not be compromised in the name of “me” time.
If we have to raise confident and secure children, we need to make them listen to their inner wisdom and trust their intuition. They need not put up with someone, who is making them feel uncomfortable or unappreciative about something. Kids whose boundaries are respected, have an easier time settling than their peers.
Once settled with other caregivers or people, who extend parenting duties on your behalf, they will enjoy myriad experiences through people, which is more enriching than any device!
By incorporating our lives with meaning (with adequate help) and a passion for learning, we will provide our children with real-life opportunities to do the same. We will equip and empower them against boredom, apathy and malaise of any form. It just has to start with you!