It’s Guest Blogger Tuesday on the Work It, Mom! Blog and today we’re featuring a blog post from Trudi. (Yes, I know it’s Wednesday. The explanation for why this didn’t run on Tuesday is boring but I’ll let you have it anyway - I thought Tuesday was Monday. I’m allowed these slip-ups, right? After all, I am a busy working mom!)
The Selfish Parent
I recently had a distant friend ask me how I stayed sane during the early days of being a working parent. For a long time, I believed that being a good parent meant giving up all my non-work time to my son, after all, I was away for ten-hours each day. How could I parent him if I wasnâ€™t there in the evening as well?
Being Canadian and living in Canada, I had a huge advantage when it came to returning to work. Namely, my son was nearly a year old when it happened. I had 11-months and 1-week with him before I dropped him off that first morning and he went willingly into the arms of Wanda, our child care provider. She took him into her kitchen, plopped him in the highchair and gave him some Cheerios while she fed her own sons their breakfast. I cried all the way to work. My son did not.
Even starting daycare later left me with feeling of guilt that I had to give up my every non-working hour that he was awake to him. It was as if I didnâ€™t spend all that time with him, I was being selfish, and that selfish was a bad thing. As it turns out, being selfish was the best gift I ever gave him. By taking some time to myself every week, I was able to bring some balance back into myself and he benefited from happier, more rested mama.
Giving yourself a time out!
I have it easy in so many ways. My husband is an active and involved parent and full partner in my life. We both recognized a need for extra sleep and some alone time every week. We made a pact. On Tuesday after dinner, he was free to do whatever he wanted. On Wednesday, that rule applied to me. Weekends, we alternated sleeping in each morning. I think I lucked out there, since I took Saturdays. By Sunday morning, I was caught up enough to manage the 6:00 AM wake-up call of â€œmaaaa-maaaaâ€ with a smile on my face.
Generally, Iâ€™d stick around on Wednesdays until just before bedtime, then slip out of the house and hit a local cafÃ© and have a cup of tea and read a book. Sometimes, Iâ€™d go visit a friend or run errands, but for the first six months, I was content with being alone. Iâ€™d come home close to my bedtime, climb into bed a little early, and quickly fall asleep. The break in the routine, the time away to write in my journal or read a book, and the support of my partner all rejuvenated me mid-week.
As our son gets older, this becomes much easier. Now, at the ripe old age of 4 Â½, he asks every day â€œwhat night is it?â€ The options are Mom & Him Night, Boysâ€™ Night, or Family Night. He really doesnâ€™t care which of the three he gets, as long as it rotates often. On Wednesdays, heâ€™s been known to ask â€œare you going out now? Can you leave now? Dad and I are going to __________!â€ Heâ€™s quite ok with that time away from me. On our night home, we play, and he often wants to go to bed a half hour early so we can lay together, read books, and snuggle. Weâ€™ve carved out some really special time together.
Last night, I used my night out to fold laundry and organize the closet. What do you mean thatâ€™s not fun? In fact, it was great because I did it without interruption. When I was done, I changed my clothes, kissed my boys goodnight and left the house for a late-show with a friend. We saw Hairspray and had a ball.
This morning, I was woken up with â€œWhat night is it tonight mom?â€ I told him it might be our night, since Dad never got out on Tuesday. He responded with â€œOh good. Thatâ€™s what I always wanted.â€ Cute as it sounds, thatâ€™s his response to everything these days.
And it doesnâ€™t matter to me if Dad goes out tonight and tomorrow night because I know come Saturday morning, I will be lazing in my cozy bed and on Wednesday, I will be out on my own. And our son will be happy with the answer to â€œWhat night is itâ€, whatever that answer may be.
Selfish can be a good thing.
Trudi Evans is the publisher of As We Are Magazine and the mom of Sam The Wonder Child and his cat Hero. Along with Wonder Dad, they are growing one pumpkin, getting ready for the first year of school, and adjusting to everyone’s greater independence.
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