Today I have a guest post for you by Joanne Mallon. As well as blogging, Joanne is a freelance journalist and life coach. She is also the author of the best selling Toddlers: An Instruction Manual which features contributions from more than 60 parent bloggers, providing practical, non-judgemental advice to get you through the toddler period.
“Me Time” is one of those maligned phrases that has come to be derided as much as it is desired. It can feel like yet another obligation to add to your list – a list which is probably already full to bursting with things you don’t have the time or energy to get round to as it is.
So how achievable is it the parent of a toddler to have some time to yourself, to have a life away from your child? Is it worth the bother?
When I asked parents of toddlers this question, they looked at me as if I’d gone a bit squiffy in the head and asked me if I was feeling alright. “Me Time, what’s that?” just about sums it up.
And yet, if you dig a bit deeper, some parents do carve out pockets of time for themselves. Some run or go the gym, some get crafty and make things, others blog, join book groups, get involved in charity work or simply relax with a glass of wine in the bath at night. All of them are just as busy as you, so if some people can do it, it must, by definition, be at least possible. But with more than enough on our plates already, why should we bother?
I believe that taking care of yourself is part and parcel of taking care of your child. Children, even little babies, are very sensitive to their environment. They’re like a barometer of your life.
So if you’re stressed, worried or rushed off your feet, they will know about it, even if they can’t say it (To be fair, they may be the cause of it). If your relationship is troubled, even if you never argue in front of your child, they will pick up on it.
This is why, when your attention is elsewhere, your child’s behaviour may react against this. They sense that your attention is not with them, so they want it back.
So given that our child’s moods and our own are so intertwined, it makes sense to see taking care of yourself as being part of taking care of your child. You’re not being a better parent if you sit on all your needs, and end up feeling unfulfilled. Happy parents = happy kids. It’s all interlinked.
Toddlers: An Instruction Manual: A Guide to Surviving the Years One to Four is available in paperback or for your Kindle and part of the royalties go to Home-Start, one of the UK’s leading family support charities.