The premise of this chapter is great advice, at least on the surface. Part of managing life as a mom is figuring out what drains us and what fills us up. It’s OK to have likes and dislikes when it comes to parenting. I enjoy reading aloud to my kids, when they are real stories, not twaddle. (You know what I mean, books about TV characters with no real plot and poor writing and similar.) So I avoid bringing twaddle into our home, though somehow a few seem to find their way into our bag on library days.
I also know that time away from my kids is necessary for me to stay sane, but not just time away from, but time spent on something I enjoy. For a season this meant one night a week where I left the house as soon as my husband arrived home and didn’t return until after the children were in bed. I would go to a local café and eat dinner followed by time to read and write, preferably write. While we’ve had to take a break from that season for a while, I think we need to get back to it soon, because I notice a difference without it.
Yes, as Jamie points out, sometimes we have to do things that don’t come easily to us, this stretches us and we may find something new that we do, in fact, enjoy. Also, life and motherhood are full of lots of challenges that we must face. Housework drains me, but a clean house makes me feel calmer. So in that area it’s about balance. Clean enjoy to feel calm without being constantly drained from picking up and organizing. As my children are getting older, it also means that they need to begin the slow process of learning tasks and taking on responsibility in our home.
One thing that Jamie didn’t talk much about in this chapter that I feel is essential and balancing the needs of your children with your own. I am a firm believer in the idea that children do not run the household, but I also know that they have needs and wants too. As a mom, I try to be sensitive to this. Sometimes it means hosting playdates, even when I’d rather not because it’s messy, loud and cuts into my afternoon quiet time. My daughter requests and enjoys these events, and I try to honor that. I may mean a Sunday afternoon spent at the park or a morning in the backyard when I have so much to do because my children need this time to be healthy and get their pent up energy out.
But ultimately, knowing what works well for us, can allow us to better balance our days and avoid burnout. I may choose a busy week with many days out because of activities that we all enjoy. But I know it will mean needing time to recover at the end with a slower week to come. I’m still working through this process myself, but really accessing what energizes me, drains me and what I love and hate about parenting do make it easier in cases where I do have choices about how I spend my time.