I was asked, if it was difficult to take care of my needs and still accomplish everything necessary in my day, specifically when having a larger family. I began addressing this in my most previous post “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine.” For me, I had a tendency of going full force, doing most everything myself, not asking for help, and forgetting about my needs, and then ultimately burning out. There are a few things in that sentence that made it almost impossible for me to even attend to myself. One of the most important things for me at least, is asking. It doesn’t even have to be about asking for help on a a task, but asking for time. That is something I realized that I didn’t give myself any of, time.
Now, right after dinner, I leave the table, go in my room, listen to music, podcast or a talk, and then write. I need time to myself. The kids have their dinner duties, they alternate between washing dishes, drying and what they’ve named “the everything job” (sweeping, clearing dishes, putting away food and wiping down table and counters). I had this time before, but I didn’t claim it as my own time.
Important Note: the time was always there, BUT it wasn’t given intentional direction. Now that it is allotted as “my time” I actually can focus intentionally on myself and depend on that every night.
I told Grant I needed it and he said, “great, ok” and he keeps them away from me for that bit of time. So it was an easy transition, but it was a matter of saying what I needed, which a lot of times, and at least for me, can be difficult to do.
I do a similar routine in the morning but I have’t claimed it as my time, even though I do much of the same stuff, I can depend on the night to focus and not be distracted. It is only about 1 hour, but it is deliberate and uninterrupted. I have many moments throughout the day that are downtime, but that is the thing, it is about taking the time during the day or night that is probably the optimal time for you (as a mother or father of a lot of children) and carving it out from the rest of that day and saying, I’m claiming this hour as my own.
I think that is one the biggest deceptions people tell us and we tell ourselves, that we have no time. But the truth is, we do, but we need to be selfish (in a healthy way of course) to take it and own it as ours. After becoming focused on these things, I’m keenly aware of so much time that I actually do have, and always have had. If you have a full time job and come home and have to take care of your family, there is still time, even if it is waking up 15 minutes earlier or going to bed 15 minutes later, or in that moment where you just zone out and watch a show, that is time you could use intentionally.
Important effect: Since doing this, the kids watch me taking my time seriously and seem to be imitating me. So even though it seems like focusing on yourself isn’t fair to them, they are actually learning to value time themselves. Kids have a tendency to imitate. I sit down and start working and many times they pull out their own projects and work on them. So like that oxygen mask analogy, be selfish and put on your mask first. Being a healthy individual is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family.