Village School

Parenting Toolbox – Mission to "Make Time"

By Asami, Parent Education Trainer and Village School Parent

There are nights I am putting my kids to bed when I tell myself, “I’ll just close my eyes for a second…” then I wake up around 2am next to a drooling child, still in my clothes, about 1/3 of my makeup intact. I transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer, making mental to-do lists for the next day as I survey the state of the house on my way to the kitchen to eat a bag of chips or a bowl of cereal over the sink for dinner. Last night it was a delicious bag of Trader Joe’s Nacho chips (need to add that to shopping list).

I hear similar stories from fellow parents of having a constant feeling of running to keep up with the volume of responsibilities.

In Dr. Jane Nelsen’s books “Positive Discipline For Working Parents” and “Positive Discipline for Today’s Busy (and Overwhelmed) Parent,” there is discussion on the topic of “Honoring Your Needs First”” When trying to keep up with the endless to-do lists, things parents tend to de-prioritize are often the very things that make life enjoyable. Fun activities, relaxing or time for self care can be viewed as luxuries or even as selfish compared to household tasks and supporting the needs of the family.

From my own experience, I have a hard time prioritizing exercise. When I exercise, I generally feel happier, more energized and patient. I am prompting the best version of myself. Everyone I am in close proximity with will benefit from this (I can see my husband nodding his head as he proofreads this). In addition, I am modeling to my children the importance of self care and life balancing.

When in the moment of feeling swallowed by emails, the lack of clean clothes, an empty refrigerator and running late to getting kids to an activity, finding time to exercise sounds impossible. But who suffers? Everyone. I do not get the immediate benefits, I am not able to be as focused or efficient at work, I have been told my attitude is curt and my children and husband get a non-Positive Discipline version of myself (I am the “before” version from Positive Discipline class role plays). In addition, I may be giving my children the impression that parenting is all work and obligations that require sacrificing doing things you enjoy. If my children choose to have their own families, I want them to spend time with friends, enjoy activities and prioritize their personal needs.

I believe my approach needs to change from “finding time” to “making time.” Another motivating tool is a visual aid. A fellow Parent Ed team member discussed taking a selfie of “scary mommy” — the face your child and loved ones see when you are irritated, when your lid is flipped. 

I did. Bummer… That lady is not someone who looks like she wants to listen or be kind or who is fun to be around. She looks like she is full of judgement and irritated by my mere existence. This is not even a true representation. I would ask my husband to take a real life example (plenty of opportunities), but he has his own wellbeing to consider.

If you have been able to prioritize self care, I salute you. If you are still finding this a challenge, I encourage you to consider joining me on a mission to “make time.”