I started this year with the intention of learning how to be happy and how to take care of myself. At the time, I didn’t know I was getting a divorce or about to experience all of the changes and challenges that go along with it.
One of the major questions in this divorce is that I’m a SAH AP Mama and our son is not ready for preschool. He’s three and a half and a sweet, sensitive boy who has friends and goes to playdates, but doesn’t like big groups or a lot of noise. That means Cavanaugh and I are together most of the time.
My husband being out of the house means that the pretty intensive practice of attachment parenting just got a lot more intense, so the need for self-care is more important than ever.
So, one of my major questions has been how to engage in self care when I’m with my son.
Here are our top ten:
- Take deep breaths. When we’ve been running errands, it’s near the end of the day and energy is low, Cavanaugh’s hungry or sleepy, I’m feeling impatient, or any other circumstance you can name where just taking a minute is advisable, sometimes I remember to take deep breaths. Cavanaugh takes them with me. He’ll even suggest we take them occasionally.
- Go for a walk with the jogging stroller. I get exercise. He gets adventure. If he doesn’t want to be in the stroller, he can run alongside it. On the way back from the park the other day, he ran along yelling, “Hi grass. Hi roly poly. Hi garden.” Endorphins. Oxygen. Nature.
- Vacuum. Cavanaugh gets his popper and I get my vacuum and we have races, bump into each other and get the living room clean.
- Create something. It’s so easy to think my creativity has to take a backseat to mothering. Doing beadwork or crochet doesn’t work together right now, but Cavanaugh loves to paint with me. He tells me what shapes to make and then he colors them in. Or he draws things and tells me a story about what they are. Pretty soon, we have characters, a scene, and a whole plot going. It might not be the poem I would have written on my own, but it uses the same part of me.
- Chase a ball. Our favorite new game is the basketball hoop for toddlers with a small bouncy ball and throw it to each other than chase it. We get super silly, exercise, time outside, and play time together.
- Go out for a treat. Whether it’s the bagel shop for lunch or the coffee shop for a latte and chocolate milk, sitting across the table from each other in the middle of the day somewhere outside our house means we have conversations we don’t have any other time.
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- Notice nature. We lie in the hammock and Cavanaugh drives his trains up my legs while I look at the trees. Eventually, he checks out the trees too. Or we go outside to say goodnight to the moon. Or we watch butterflies at the park or in our yard. Slowing down to just pay attention and be in nature centers us both.
- Sing. Sing a narrative of what you’re doing: “We’re walking up the stairs to look for Pigeon. We hope we can find him there.” Cavanaugh sings too. It’s like a musical with conversation in song.
- Drink water. We both get our glasses and drink at the same time, big delicious gulps of icy cold water. We pick up our cups and drink together again. We both drink more this way and it feels like a game.
- Read with Cavanaugh before he goes to sleep and then lie in the bed after he’s asleep and read a book for me.
Sonya Fehér blogs about parenting, divorce, self care, and spirituality at mamaTRUE: parenting as practice
6 thoughts on “Take Care of Yourself and Your Kids at the Same Time”
Isn’t it amazing how much kids like doing what we are doing, even if it’s something as mundane as vacuuming? Sounds like you’re doing a great job of making everyday stuff fun for your little guy!
Thanks! What I’m so frequently realizing these days is that having my son makes my life so much more fun . I would much rather wake up in the morning to a sweet boy saying, “It’s time to wake up Mama,” than to an alarm clock. His mantra these days is “Let’s play.” What a wonderful reminder that life doesn’t have to be serious or hard. And I like vacuuming so much better now that he and I are racing around the living room and the whir of the motor is interrupted by his giggles.
Sorry to hear you are going through a rough time. Thanks for all of the ‘with my child’ stress-relievers. Those are the most challenging for me as well. If i can Just Get Five Minutes, it’s not so bad, but sometimes, i can’t, and we are expecting our second child in a few months, so it is going to get even harder to get kid-nap-time/mama-breather-time.
I hope the with-my-child stress relievers help. My son gave up naps at 2 1/2, just stopped taking them. Rather than wanting to just go to sleep with him at the end of the day, which ensured I never got time alone, I needed to find some ways that he and I could do things together that filled both of our cups. Sometimes, it’s as simple as taking turns getting what we want. Today, I wanted to take a long walk. He would have been happy with a short one. Afterwards, he wanted a grilled cheese sandwich at the outdoor snack bar, while I would have been happy with air conditioning. I got my long walk. He got his grilled cheese. We went to the library, then we went to the grocery store. Even those little things can be great acts of self care.
My daughter is only 8 months old but I use these same tips with her to stay as positive and happy as possible even during temper tantrums and teething. Thanks so much for putting it out there.
How do you pull it off being single and a Mom?
Glad to see what you wrote. Had to actually print it so I will have a chance to read it.