Sunday, January 27, 2008

Planning time for Mum.

"Back to school" is almost here and it has started me thinking about how the pace of our leisurely "school holiday" days will change very soon. Once the school term starts there are many activities to fit in across the week for the kids, meetings to attend and general household up keep. It does become quite a juggling act and where does time for mum come in this equation?

Back in my early corporate days I attended a Springboard workshop for women. This would be at least 12 years ago now, and there is only vague memories of the workshop, with the exception of an analogy that the trainer made. She said that mothers tended to always give themselves the "burnt chop'. That is , the mother would put everyone elses needs above hers and have what was left. Although the thought of having children was nowhere in my head at this stage, the statement resonated with me, because this was exactly what my lovely mother did and the majority of my friends' mothers as well.

I have to admit that there have been (too many) instances where I have forgone things that I would have liked to have done, in order that we fitted everything else in for the family. But since I have implemented my simple planning approach across most of our family life, I have found that this happens much less often.

This may come across as if I am being a little bit self centred, but in reality looking after myself is beneficial to the family. I find that the mood of the house tends to revolve around my mood. If I am tired, snitchy or lacking in energy, the kids will often feed off this and there is more bickering amongst them; if I ask them to do something there is more resistance; and they can find it difficult to amuse themselves. Making the time to look after myself can prevent these scenarios.

It is to the benefit of my family that I have time for me. For example, my 3 sessions at the gym a week. I don't have set days that I go to, but the family all works towards me getting to the gym 3 times a week.

There are direct benefits for me in this being achieved and an indirect benefits to the family in the following ways:

It makes me less cranky.
I can be very grumpy when I leave the house, but after the endorphins kick in on the treadmill, I begin to feel much happier and bring this mood home with me.
I sleep better.
Very similar to above, the better I sleep, the less tired and cranky I am.
Gives me more energy
Running around with the 4 kids can get pretty tiring, I find regular exercise gives me stamina.
I have some time to just have my own thoughts.
I put on my MP3 player and I don't have to answer any questions or worry about the needs of others for that hour!

Basically when I go to the gym, I come back refreshed and happier to spend time with everyone. Going to the gym is not the only way I can do this. Socialising and adult activities have a similar effect on my mood. I make sure that I schedule time for these activities and although it may only be once a quarter, when combined they give my life the variety I need to stay healthy, happy and sane. These are the most important ones that I make sure I plan for:

For dearest and I to go out together.
It is lovely to just have some time for us where we can connect together outside the home.
See my friends without the children around.
Two of dearest friends in Melbourne also have children and we catch up regularly during the day and the 9 kids love to play together. But we don't have many uninterrupted conversations, so we make sure that every few months, we have a night together where we can talk uninterrupted. (This is also the case with my lovely 3 sisters and other groups of friends.)
Non child related activity.
I love my children dearly, but I do not want to be one dimensional, having a non child related activity (in my case politics) makes my brain to think in different ways and I can become exposed to new thoughts and ideas.

Like most things in life, this is a work in progress and sometimes I plan well and get the balance right. Sometimes the unplanned rears its head and things get out of kilter. But by valuing these activities enough to schedule them, I have a much greater chance of looking after me and therefore taking better care of my family.

1 comment:

Gypsy said...

Very good post - I am guilty of just losing myself in mummy-ing and wife-ing and domestrivia. One of my best friends has declared 2008 to be the 'year of me' and is refusing burnt chops or any kind of mummy martyrdom. Definately something worth pondering :)