Taking care of a family can be overwhelming and frustrating, and I mean real frustrating. For example, the other day I left the family at home without my supervision for approximately three hours. I left the house clean, dinner in the crock pot and asked that my one-year-old son be put down at his normal bedtime. I returned to my home looking like a tornado hit it, the food from the crockpot sitting on the counter and my son running around barefoot outside, an hour past his bedtime. Yes, I was angry. In fact, I probably had steam coming out of my ears.
As parents, we constantly hear that it is so important to take time ourselves. But what happens when that “you” time results in much more work and a lack of patience?
It is possible to have patience with your family, be happy and enjoy a little time to yourself. In fact, it is necessary that we give ourselves a little space to endure the challenges raising a family brings. Here are a few ways I have found to keep calm and give myself a break without coming home to a pig-stye and poorly behaved children.
Communicate with your family
Before you leave to give yourself a little “you” time, explain to your spouse or whomever is in charge, exactly what you expect. If you expect the dishes to be done and the baby in bed by a certain time, make sure that is known. If you simply assume that the other individual knows, most likely you will be disappointed and angry when you come home. Communication is key for the household to run smoothly while you step out for a while.
Break up your “you” time
Instead of choosing one day a week to give yourself some time away, make it a daily habit. A small amount of time away from the family and reality can rejuvenate yourself and lift your mood. This time away can help you be a much more pleasant parent and spouse. When you wait and spend an extended period of time to yourself, you become burned out much faster. Give yourself a minimum of 15 minutes every day, and you will begin to see a difference.
Spend time to yourself wisely
When you spend time by yourself, do things you want to do, not things you have to do. Spend time reading a book, going for a run or giving yourself a manicure. Don’t spend your free time running to the store, cleaning the bathroom or gassing up the car. Do things that make you happy, rejuvenate your soul and bring happiness to your day.
Don’t be afraid to ask for time to yourself
When I first became a mom, I felt so bad that I wanted time away from my family. I felt selfish and guilty that I didn’t want to spend every waking minute with the people that mean the most to me. Over time, I realized that I desperately needed that time away. I couldn’t be the parent or spouse I wanted to be without it. I needed to do things for myself to have the strength, energy and patience to do things for my husband and child. If you are not receiving time to yourself, ask for it. Ask your spouse for a little time to yourself each day. If you have older children, tell them that you need time alone, and they must not bother you for 30 minutes, etc. Don’t feel guilty that you need a break and ask for the help you need. Here are some ideas on taking care of yourself.
It is important that you spend time alone. The messes may be there when you come back, children may not be in bed and food may be left on the counter. However, you will be a much more patient and energetic individual and ready to handle all the challenges that managing a household and raising a family brings.
Courtnie Erickson is a Utah State University graduate and a technology guru.