We hug them, love them, teach them, and share with them, wiping away tears, assuring them that monsters are not in the closet or under the bed, even helping them through algebra. We are our children's caretakers, and we care for them so deeply and completely that we sometimes forget to care for ourselves. If we get too stretched out and burned out, we aren't as effective at taking care of others.
One of the things that I learned through my early years of homeschooling and being a full-time mom was that I had to take care of MOM first. One of the best analogies for this is the statement that is made when you are going through the safety talk before takeoff on an airplane: when the oxygen masks drop in an emergency, the adult should put her mask on first, then assist the child with his. We can't help our child if we are incapacitated—that's my interpretation. And this holds true in all that we do, particularly when it comes to parental well-being and the individual feeling of fulfillment.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting ideas for keeping you—the wife, the mom, the teacher—fresh and at your best. Here we go:
1. Take time to make time. Begin by blocking off an hour each week that is YOUR time, no exceptions. Even if you go and sit in the library and read a magazine, just go!
I learned early in my adventures at home that I had to make time for myself. I would have one night a week that I would go to the library, without the children, to read and enjoy the silence! It can be so difficult to make time for ourselves; there are so many other pressing needs that get in line ahead of our own. Just as in days gone by when folks would talk about having to "prime the pump" to get it working, we parents are the same way. We have to read, rest, relax, and get some “alone time.” We have to refill our own wells from time to time, re-priming the pump so that we are at our best.