If you're like me, you've made lots of New Year resolutions, only to conveniently forget them by the end of the first week of January. We all have the best of intentions, but life always seems to have a way of getting in our way. If you're the "care giver" in your family, then most likely you're the least likely to make time for yourself, and take care of you.
With kids in the family, and more and more, elderly parents blended into the mix....oh, and let's not forget working outside the home, you're reading this and thinking, she has no idea what it's like in the real world. Well, I was a single parent for most of my children's lives, and I worked full time. I even went to graduate school on top of working full time and raising my girls......I was a very tired woman at the end of every day!
I think it's important for every care giver to prioritize time for themselves. If you're not healthy and functioning at your best, you can't expect to give the best to your family. Sometimes it's as simple as getting that manicure/pedicure and just spending an hour with no one asking you where something is. If you can't afford that, then put on some comfortable shoes and clothes and go for a walk. The city that I live in has beautiful parks everywhere, in all sizes and configurations. There are several within 5-minutes of where I live, and I can easily go to one and get out of my house, breathing in the fresh air, and not sitting here in front of my computer. Staying or getting fit, is just as important as doing the laundry!
Another great way to regenerate, is get together with friends. Just going out once a month for a dinner or lunch and reconnecting with friends can do a world of good for you. There's only so much any one adult can hear of "Mom....she took my_________you can fill in the blank". Being able to sit for a couple of hours and have adult conversation is amazing for your psyche! And, if you can't afford to go out, have that friend over...put the kids to bed, and have your adult night at home.
Now I know you're busy, but one of the best ways to connect with your children, is getting involved with them at school. It can be as simple as sending cookies or cupcakes for some special occasion they're having. I taught school for many years, and I can tell you, the children who had moms send in special treats were always so proud of that. They loved sharing with their classmates, and it made them feel special. Volunteer for a field trip every once in a while--kids LOVE that--they like to show off their parents any chance they get. The beauty of doing this, is you build a very special bond with your child, which hopefully will reduce some of the frictions at home, and it encourages them to do better in school because they really do want to please you. It's always a lot better to have mom or dad coming in with treats instead of for a parent teacher conference!
If your parents are relying on you to help them in their elder years, this can be exhausting. You have all those demands in your own life, and then you have parents you love dearly relying on you. This is a time where you need to set expectations that are reasonable, and sometimes it's going to mean enlisting the help of others to get everything done. If you're lucky and have siblings that live in the same area, you can all get together and come up with a schedule of duties, so everything doesn't fall to one individual. There may be a need to hire part time help too. In the midst of all of it, you want to connect with your parents and treasure the time you have with them. It's never too late to create new memories to be carried through the younger generations!
Designate one night a week that is family night. There's nothing that binds families together more than spending special times together. It could be spent watching a special movie, making a favorite dinner, or playing a favorite game. The goal is to reinforce the bond of family through fun activities. A deviation on that if you have more than one child, is spend one on one time with each child. They need to know their not just part of a group, that they have special qualities as an individual.
The point of all this is.....you need time for you in whatever way you can find it. Don't wait for it to happen--schedule it into you weekly list of things to do. If you don't make the time, it will never find you! Wishing you all a very happy, healthy new year in 2012!