Someone very wise once told me, “you can do it all, you just cannot do it all at once.” Sadly, I have no recollection of who that person might be because I was in a whirlwind of activities and my memory of the two years after my third child was born are a blur. If memory serves, and it really doesn’t here, I think she was referring to the fact that we were moving from Bermuda to Connecticut one month after my son was born via c-section. I also, stupidly, took on a consulting assignment at that time. My husband was looking for a new job. Also, we had three children under the age of 3. We did not have a stick of furniture, except our beds, for over one month because it was all tied up in customs. My neighbors, when inquiring the other neighbors if they had met me, referred to me as “That poor women with three tiny children and no furniture.”
As busy and awful as that time was, it was a piece of cake compared to the juggling around of the various kids’ schedules; working; taking care of the house; being a friend; having a marriage (even a happy one!); and having many tremendous decisions to make about what type of special needs assistance Megan and Patrick needed in order to succeed. And oh yea, what about Katie, the one with no developmental problems? I had to make sure that she didn’t get the short end of the stick.
My husband and I were exhausted, irritable and overwhelmed on our good days. You don’t want to know about the bad days. As I did my part time work out of the house, I was always around the craziness. My husband, at least, had the ability to leave each day and have real adult conversations. Unfortunately, he had to come home to one frazzled wife who had had it.
When I talk about recharging, I’m talking about doing something that is truly selfish, or self-caring if you prefer. Here are some of my favorites: taking a crack of dawn walk with my friends; gardening (even weeding!); reading a book that has absolutely nothing to do with children; flying a kite with the kids; going on to dinner with friends and making a pact that we talk about anything other than our little tax deductions; get a manicure; taking a bath; going grocery shopping BY MYSELF; going to get my haircut and taking no one with me; taking the kids to the beach to run around; going to a playground with the kids; going to the ice cream parlor with the whole family; taking the dog for a walk; etc. I think you get the picture. FUN things. RELAXING things.
Sometimes, this recharging needs to be alone or with just adults. Sometimes, often the best times, are when you are with the kids. The bottom line is that you are just letting go and having a fabulous time. If you are smarter than I was, you will recharge often, even if it is short breaks. Don’t let yourself get to that completely frazzled point. A fifteen-minute break here and there can do wonders for your decision-making abilities and your parenting skills. If you have the ability to take a longer break once in a while, grab it with both hands.
You may be asking yourself how you can take a short break here and there when the kids are running around and there is no one else to watch them. Find something that will occupy them, if it is even for a short while. Coloring books, non-messy crafts, reading books, playdough and other quiet activities are good ones. In a pinch, put on the television. Having them watch a bit of tv so you don’t lose it is nothing to be ashamed about. If you feel guilty about it, put on some PBS and get over it. I’d much rather be known as the Mom of kids who watch too much television than the Mom who yells at her kids all the time. I’m not suggesting that the television be an electronic babysitter; but if you can grab a 15-30 minute break and be a better parent/decision maker for it, it certainly isn’t the end of the world.