I participate in a couple of monthly discussion groups. The conversations at these groups are really inspiring, not to mention thought provoking.
Last week at one of these groups, the topic turned to how much alone time parents need to be refreshed and ready to meet all of the tasks we have on our daily lists. We all talked about how much alone time we needed daily. Some women needed more time than others to maintain good mental health. This is to be expected, we are all so different. :)
All of this talking about alone time really made me think for a couple of days. I found myself asking, "What is it that we need alone time,or refresh time, to get ready for?" I came up with two things that a parent needs energy for.
A: The energy of the children.
B: The lists of things that parents have to do to raise a family and serve in their communities.
Regarding A. Some people are more affected by noise, and overall energy than other people. If you are one of those people, you either have to increase your ability to tune things out or schedule regular times when the children have quiet time each day, so that you can refresh. In our group we decided that even washing dishes alone is a different experience than washing them with all the family energy happening at the same time.
Regarding B. Oh the lists of things we all do each day! The overwhelming, never-ending lists. I don't know if I have met very many people, especially mothers, in my life who haven't lamented about how they wish they could get more of the things on their lists done each day.
We all have two lists; the have to do right now list, and the have to get done sometime list. The dishes, food preparation, reading books to the children, changing diapers, holding a crying baby, doing laundry, etc. are all have to do right now things. They take first priority, so the things on the other list like, read my own book, write in my journal, practice my own piano, put in the garden, call my sister on her birthday, etc. all take a back seat.
The list that most people lament about not ever getting to is list number two. People crave progress. This is a great thing! This is something that keeps people working toward their great pursuits, and changing the world. The only problem with this craving is that we become disappointed when we can't feed it. We need to keep our craving in perspective during the different phases of our lives. There are times when we will be able to check more things off of list two than other times. That is just the way it is. I have learned a trick to help me check more things off of my list two daily.
I will never forget when I learned this list trick. I had just had my fourth baby, and was going through a pretty overwhelming time in my life. I was talking to my friend, Janis, one day when I started telling her that I was never getting anything done. Janis is very wise, and she knew what list I was talking about. She has eight children and has experienced many days like I was experiencing. She looked at me and said, "You are making the wrong kind of list. What are you doing with your days right now?"
I responded with, "Well, I mostly just hold the baby and feed the baby, and try to give the other children the attention and love they need."
"Your list should say, HOLD THE BABY, HOLD THE BABY, HOLD THE BABY. Then is should say, CUDDLE WITH LONDYN, READ WITH PAIJE, AND PLAY A GAME WITH QUIN." This is what she told me.
She was 100% right on. Why was I sabotaging myself? I should have been putting things on my list that I would really do. I already believed in praising my children and husband, why wouldn't I allow myself a few good marks each day.
The other thing I realized, was my thinking that I wasn't getting anything done was really saying that I thought my alone things, like reading my book etc, were more important than building relationships with my children. Relationship building didn't even make it on my list. This was a huge revelation for me.
I started making new lists. I wrote HOLD THE BABY a lot and all the other relationship building things that I really needed to do for my children and husband too. At the end of the days I checked off tons of things on my list. Even though all the old things on list two were still there, it all of the sudden didn't matter to me, because by making a new list, I put things into perspective. I also found that focusing on doing those things for others helped me think less about myself. Then my needs were fulfilled by meeting their needs. Try it, it really works. I had a Huge paradigm sift.
Janis, if you are out there. Thank you!!!