Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
We all hear it from our family, our friends and our co-workers: “Take care of yourself!”
Sometimes they follow that statement up with, “If you don’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of anyone else.”
But it is very hard to take care of yourself when you are the only parent, the only provider, the only disciplinarian, the only tutor, the only cook, the only…everything.
Single parents tend to run themselves ragged trying to juggle the job, school, soccer practice, music lessons, and a routine that allows for family meals and bedtimes. How can we possibly do it all?
The truth is, we can’t. And it is okay.
In a single parent household, a job is a necessity. With school-age children, school is a requirement. After these two “necessities”, it is time to decide what is most important to you as a family.
The pressure is on us to encourage our children to be well-rounded by being involved in music, sports, and other extracurricular activities. The more in which they are involved, the more responsibility that is heaped upon our shoulders. Yes, children should be encouraged to explore their talents, but they certainly do not have to be involved in the arts, music and sports all at the same time.
I have known many parents who have their children involved in so many activities that there is literally something going on every night. When do they have time for homework? Family time? Sleep? Yet with all this activity they are still expected to maintain high grades and a civil personality. Most adults couldn’t maintain that much activity and still be civil!
Not to mention the pressure on parents to attend every soccer game, every piano recital, and to volunteer to assist with the Booster Club or be a room mother.
Let me remind you all now – none of us are perfect; there are only 24 hours in a day; and it is okay to say, “No!” While I do believe that parents should encourage and support their children in their endeavors, I do not believe that you must attend every soccer game/practice. Sometimes it would be more productive to take that hour and a half to rejuvenate after a hard day at work. Maybe you need to indulge in a good book. Maybe you just need that time to close your eyes and forget everything. While these may seem like over-indulgent activities to some and that you are shirking your parental duties to others, the truth is that if we, as single parents, take a moment to indulge ourselves now and then, we will parent better for it.
So the next time you start to feel guilty about taking time to “take care of yourself”, don’t. Your children will benefit from a happy, less stressed parent – so take the time to give them one.