I found myself in a puddle of self-pity quite recently. I felt like I was not spending enough quality time with my son because every day was a marathon of activity: wake up, get ready, get kid ready, get out the door, go to work, pick kid up, get dinner ready, give kid a bath, put kid to bed, try to get a few things done, go to bed. Repeat. Our weekends were spent catching up on chores and housekeeping to prepare for the next week. To make matters worse, Ev was having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, which meant I was running on empty.
During the very heart of my rut, on a particularly difficult night of very little sleep, I had a break down that involved many tears and cursing the world.
But, then I had a break through. There were things that I could do to feel better, and thankfully, now I do.
- I confided in someone. For me, I am very blessed for that person to be my husband. It is nice to have a partner in parenting and for some reason I wasn’t letting him in on my struggles. But the morning after my breakdown, I told him I was feeling defeated and I needed his help to get Ev’s sleep schedule back on track.
- I came up with a plan. Again, my husband helped me do some research and we talked about a new approach to Ev’s bedtime routine. And it worked. Ev’s sleep was making me lose sleep, but more importantly, it made me feel like I was losing control. Having a plan gave me some of that control back.
- I find time. I look for ways to have meaningful conversations with Ev during the short time that we are together during the week. We talk a lot on our commute to and from school. He helps me prepare dinner whenever he can – and not as often as he’d like!
- I try not to follow phantom rules. For me a phantom rule is something that I feel like I “should” do or am “supposed” to do. For example, Ev gets a bath at least every other night before bed (I know some parents are even cringing at that because they believe all children should bathe every night). But the other night Ev and I were working on puzzles together and it was so enjoyable that I didn’t want to end it in time for a bath even though it was the night he was “supposed” to get his bath. So, I didn’t. And the world didn’t end.
- I take advantage of opportunities for “special” experiences. We recently had a very beautiful Saturday, and after this winter, there was absolutely no way I was going to keep Ev in the house. The laundry and the piles of dog hair on the hardwood floors could wait. We took Ev to the zoo and had a marvelous time. I also recently brought Ev to the office with me. I’m blessed to work in a flexible, family-friendly environment, so when Ev asked if he could come to work with me for a little while, I was able to say yes. Not only do these experiences allow for some special interaction time (not to mention learning time for Ev), I think it also feels good to “mix” things up, especially when the monotony is starting to get me down.
Things get tough sometimes, but if there’s anything this experience has taught me, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.