A lot of new parents struggle with how to maintain their sense of self after having children. For me, it’s crucial to find time to clear away the clutter and sit in silence. Only in a quiet space can we really reflect on our own thoughts – not the thoughts of Spongebob, Elmo or Thomas the Train. Not the thoughts of a hungry husband or a cranky kid or the bill-collector on the answering machine. That’s not the sum total of your life, and those moment-to-moment concerns shouldn’t consume every corner of your waking day.
Even if it’s just the span of one nap time per week, set aside an hour or two to pay attention to your needs. Think about your own pains and emotions and what stresses you could use help dealing with. I personally take advantage of work trips to push my airplane seat back, stick in some headphones and meditate. It’s hard to step away from more pressing needs – I have work due, I should read my emails, I should plan next week’s meals – but it’s necessary to take a breather once in awhile to avoid a meltdown.
If you’re a stay-at-home parent, it can be a little more tricky to squeeze in some “me time” over lunch hour or on a commute. Try to set a schedule so that your partner and children know what to expect. When the kids are old enough, you can even put up signs on your office door indicating that you need a few minutes. If the family doesn’t respect your alone time, consider stepping away from them entirely for a night. Take over your parents’ beach home. House sit for a friend. I’ve known several moms who have escaped to hotel rooms on occasion just to sleep and take a bubble bath. It’s not done out of anger, but out of respect for their own personal need to regroup and refocus.
How do you make sure YOUR needs are met?