Thursday, December 25, 2014
I’ve been trying hard lately to make room for myself. I know that’s a common theme among adults, especially those with children, but it becomes increasingly difficult with careers and schedules and homes and the trappings of being a grown-up.
I work with a lot of parents who simply don’t have the money, let alone the time, for self-care. Even if several hours a week to work out could be negotiated, who will watch the kids? Gym memberships and sitters cost money. Massages are a luxury for many of us — heck, regular doctor appointments can be a challenge. “Dates” with a spouse also mean money for sitters and entertainment, and other things can easily get pushed to the bottom when evenings are busy with meetings and kid activities and the like.
Houses always need cleaning, laundry always needs doing, and kids always need reading to. How does one take time for herself when she looks around at a messy kitchen or a stack of bills that need to be paid?
I have been making efforts to spend a bit more time with my friends, to do the things that inspire and interest me, and to more regularly be quiet and alone with a book of my own choosing. That has meant that my house suffers even more than usual, and that I spend a little less of my precious time with my family. So there is a price for this.
I’m not sure yet if I’ve struck the proper balance or even what that is, but I will say that it’s been good. I’m not sure my husband would agree, but in terms of my sanity, it’s been a must.
I think that while he may not love the fact that I’m a little less available, I cook fewer nightly meals, and I’ve all but abandoned laundry as a part of my life, he’ll be glad in the long run that I didn’t wind up in the loony bin for drinking gin out of my shoe in a dark corner of the garage while mumbling about grocery lists.
It has not been easy. In fact, making time for my own interests and needs has caused me some anxiety. I don’t like to feel judged and I don’t like to feel like I have disappointed people, so rather than take care of myself I might just choose to avoid those feelings of discomfort by going about the business of always taking care of everyone and everything else.
My month-long experiment of doing “less” overall and doing “more” for myself has not provided concrete results yet. As the holiday season continues to ramp up, that “me” time is probably going to take a back seat again until the first of the year, and then I’ll work again on finding that balance. A little less book, a little more dishes, and hopefully I’ll get it right.
But overall, my happiness has increased. And while my personal happiness is not the most important thing in the world, it has to factor in somewhere. And I think my children and family will be better for it overall.
— Megan Stuke is a wife and a mother of Johnny (5) and Lily (1). By day she works to help children and families at Ballard Community Services, and by night she writes, cooks, cleans (very little) and tries her best to be part of everything Lawrence has to offer.