Friday, January 13, 2012

Making Time for Me {Mindful Parenting Collaboration #5}

If you’re reading this, you might have the feeling that you want to change some of your parenting practices or, perhaps, you're curious about “mindful parenting” and what it could be. Well, congratulations for taking a moment from your day to click on the link. Erin of it’s OK and I are going to be working together over the next 40 weeks (!) on a journey toward more mindful parenting and would love to have you join us. To learn how we envision The Mindful Parenting Collaboration working, please read the introductory post HERE.
My post last week threw some readers for a loop. I received some private correspondence via my contact form that went from someone telling me what a terrible person I am all the way to someone sharing a story very close to mine that occurred on New Year's Day, too. I received reprimands, congratulations, and pats on the back. I know that what I told you about my lovely explosive reaction to being out of milk was pretty extreme. It was the result of self-neglect and holding everything in for a very long time. Just like the bottles of champagne that many people had shaken up just before midnight the night before, I blew my cork.

I am not proud of what happened. I probably would have not shared it here if the topic had been anything else! I apologized to my family. I felt guilty about my outburst for days. I even had nightmares about it. It took me a while to realize the root of the problem. I shared the experience here because I wanted you to know what could happen when we don't take care of ourselves as individuals. Taking care of our families is important, but we really can't be the best parent or partner if we neglect ourselves.

Below, I've shared some of the things I did over the past week to take care of myself, both mentally and physically.

Just after dinner, I left the dirty dishes in the sink. I told hubby that he was in charge of Little Guy - I was taking a bath. Soaked for an hour AND read a magazine. Actually shaved! THEN, took a shower, too. OMG! It felt so good to have that time to myself. I don't think it was the shower so much as the quiet and space to think. Yes, it felt over-indulgent, but the little bit of guilt was worth it.

I won a $25 Gift Card to Sears recently. I had planned on using it to buy something we needed: a new toaster, for instance. Then I realized that I could use it at K Mart, too. You know what I did? I spent most of it on myself! I literally haven't had new underwear since BEFORE I got pregnant with Little Guy. Every pair O owned was either full of holes, stretched out, or totally unraveling. I bought 6 new pairs! (Came home and relegated the old ones to the rag pile!) I also got myself a new razor - the one I used last night was rusty and dull. I bought two brand new washcloths for just me. They're bright pink so no one forgets! I'm tired of hubby and oldest using a new washcloth every time they wash some part of their body, leaving me none. I bought a bottle of nail polish, too. This is another thing I haven't had since before I got preggo. I plan to use it, too! Oh, and I got an address book and a planner for my blog.  I really wanted a separate address book to keep track of my invisible friends in the computer. And, though I have a wall calendar where I keep track of my blogging, I really wanted a small book-type planner that I could carry around with me to keep ideas and plans as they come to me - lest I forget.

I did but some household stuff, too. Mainly toilet paper and cat food - things we always need. This, too, felt indulgent. I was very close to pulling my cart out of the check-out lane to put most of it back and get that toaster and maybe a family game, but then it was my turn to pay. I'm so glad I bought the stuff. I can't tell you how nice it feels to know I have pretty undies on! And I can't wait to give myself a mani/pedi.

Didn't do much of anything specifically for myself, although I did use all of nap time to write blog posts and I spent a few hours after he went to bed reading and commenting on others' blog posts and entering giveaways.

My husband and oldest took Little Guy out for an "explorer adventure" in the woods. They had planned to be gone for just an hour or so. They ended up gone for 2 1/2 hours! I took the time to wash the dishes (without a 3 y.o.'s "help") and do some baking. I even got to wear headphones and listen to music because I didn't have to keep an ear open to listen for crashes or the eerie silence of sneakiness. And, when they got home, there were freshly baked cookies greeting them! (BONUS: The extra-long walk tired out Little Guy enough to knock him out for a 2-hour nap!)

This was they day that we went on a nature walk and made our terrariums. Both of these events had a little in store for me as well as Little Guy. The walk was great because the area is open enough and safe enough foe him to run wild without me having to reel him in closer to me. I had a chance to enjoy being outside and was able to take extra time to look closely at the trees, watch wildlife, and take photos. And, making the terrariums was a lot of fun, too. I was able to release some pent-up creativity while also doing a project with Little Guy. I did not have to go out of my way today to find a way to get some isolated "me time" in.

Just not a good day. No time for myself and no time for much of anything else. The only time I had to myself was when I headed into the bathroom and screamed into a towel. Hey - it was better than reliving the scene I made on New Year's Day and it helped me get through the rest of the day.

Little Guy was in an ornery mood and tried every way he could to get me to explode. Yes, he was really trying - after he would do something (like drop a toy car into his peed-in potty), he'd look at me to see if I'd notice. I am pretty sure he was just testing limits, but an entire day of his testing had me close to the edge. And I'm not kidding, it was as if he was brainstorming and testing - "If this didn't make mama yell, maybe this will..."

And hubby was no help at all. He came into the living room to give me a break. Little Guy decided to test him, too. Within 5 minutes, my husband decided he just couldn't take it anymore and hid in the bedroom. As he was scurrying away, he looked at me and said, "I just can't get him to listen to me and you won't make him do what I say!" I have a LOT to say about this, but not now. This post would turn into a HUGE rant and that's not what it's about.

And, yes, the oldest was in on "make mom lose her cool" day, too. It wasn't any one thing from him, just lots of little stuff. He dropped his school stuff in the middle of the kitchen floor and left it there - he knows where to put it and that's NOT the place. He stood in the kitchen, eating some candy someone gave him at school, making all of the "mmmm!" sounds - three feet away from Little Guy. When Little Guy asked for some, he popped the last piece in his mouth and told him it was all gone, tough luck. (Teasing drives me nuts, especially when someone his age is doing it. He should know better. But, I do know that whatever the disparity of their ages, sibling rivalry lives.) He complained about dinner not being done, but refused to keep an eye on his little brother so I could make it. Etc. Typical teen behavior that I can usually deal with calmly, but after the rest of the day, this was the cherry on top.

This is the last day I'm keeping track of what I've done for myself. My oldest forgot to set his alarm clock, so he missed the bus to school. When Little Guy woke up, he snuck into our room and quietly put puzzles together with him while I SLEPT IN! Now, my oldest got into a little trouble because he knows that he was supposed to head downtown and jump on a city bus to go to school. He is also required to pay for his bus ride because he is the one responsible for setting the alarm. His excuse for not doing that was because he didn't want to spend the money. Boy, is he lucky he let Mom sleep until 11am!

Since he didn't do what he was supposed to regarding missing the bus, he became "Bidderman" (definition for a Bidderman is at the link, second from last paragraph. I highly recommend getting your own if you have a teen or tween.) for the day, which gave me time to do more baking and play around on the computer. I looked up some recipes for hulled barley and am really looking forward to making them. I also managed to create a grocery list and match up coupons to it without having Little Guy's "help", making the job last 10 minutes rather than an hour!

  • Meditation - Now, I've tried and tried to meditate and just couldn't. Too many thoughts running in and out of my head. Most started with, "Instead of this, I really should be doing..." Well, on Friday, I decided to give it a try again. I usually lay with Little Guy as he goes to sleep at night and watch an old movie or nature documentary with the sound off and closed captions on. I also list in my head all of the things I need to do. I decided to turn off the TV and just lay there, in the near-dark, thinking of... nothing. It took me some time to get all of those nagging thoughts out of my head. But, one-by-one, they flew out (through my ear?) I felt at peace. I floated on the bed. I was unconsciously smiling! Eventually, I got up and realized that I'd spent an entire hour, after Little Guy had passed out, just relaxing. I've done this every night since and I can't tell you how wonderful I feel. Some nights are harder than others to "find my bliss", but I'm getting the hang of it. It seems like my mind knows when that hour is up, too. So far, I haven't gone over or under it. 
  • First cup of coffee by myself. 

I cannot believe the difference that taking a little time for myself has made in my mood and my responses to my family. Doing things for myself each day still makes me feel guilty, though. I keep thinking about what I should be doing instead. I think that I will eventually get over this little hiccup, though.

I want to take more time to be creative. I could have done so during some of the time I was given to do so, but I found out something: I can't think of what to do! Creating used to be so natural. I'd pick up a pencil and doodle a little something. Pretty soon, I had a page covered. Then, I was coloring it in. As I created, I'd get a great idea for painting or drawing a more permanent form of my doodle and off I'd go. Now, when I start to doodle, all I seem to draw are monster trucks and trains. I have a couple of items that I really want to make, but I'm just sitting here, waiting for some inspiration. I might have to give myself a jump start by forcing the issue at first...

I never did get around to doing my nails. Oh, well. There's always next week, right?

    Grab the InLinkz code to add to your own Mindful Parenting Collaboration post!


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