Earlier this week I shared that I'd hit a bit of a parenting wall. Experiencing the "giving fatigue" that so many of us face, I was feeling tired and in need of a little immediate gratification to balance all the one-way street work of raising a family.
As a newly-single parent, some of this stems from not having another adult with whom to share the day. But some of it is just middle-of-the-road parental burn-out.
It was interesting timing given that the very next day The Canadian Index of Wellbeing released findings that 20 per cent of Canadians experience a high level of what they call "time crunch" compared to just 16 per cent in1992. The effects of this time poverty are particularly acute for women, the study found, with 23 per cent of women feeling time pressure compared to 17 per cent of men.
I've got a lot more to say about the causes of our clock-based angst, and will share more on this later. But I hope that, if nothing else, readers took away from the survey results some comfort that they're not alone. There is no failure on your part to weave time-management magic out of your Filofax or Google calendar. There simply aren't enough hours in the day. The only answer is to make choices. Sometimes you can get to all your kids' many extra-curricular activities or all of your PTA meetings. Sometimes you've got to play hooky and lock yourself in the bathroom with a cup of tea (or possibly something stronger).
So on Monday I vowed that I'd do something restorative each day this week. Here's how it's gone so far.
Monday I left the office on time, made something quick for the kids to eat for dinner and practised a bit of benign neglect as they worked out their Lego squabbles on their own (this despite hearing things like "Listen up, cry-eypants," coming from the basement). Later I handed off the kids and found solace with two close friends over a sushi roll and cocktail. Just having someone else make me some dinner lifted me out of a pretty deep funk.
Tuesday I took a walk at lunchtime, failed to get my kids' birthday party invitations because I got distracted by pretty things at the mall and went to BootyCampFitness.
Wednesday I asked my co-parent for an extra day of childcare and hit a movie screening and a media party. Even danced a bit and got a henna tattoo. Silly huh? My kids were kind of impressed.
Thursday. I guess that's today. Well, after work, I'll be getting acupuncture for my chronic shoulder knots (sound familiar?) and then, after dinner with the kids, head to bootcamp again.
I'm grateful that I have someone else to share the load, even if he's not really mine anymore. I know not everyone else has that, certainly not most single mothers. Whatever your circumstances, I hope you can do something to treat yourself well this week, too. Sometimes it just starts with an internal cry of "uncle!" for us to make the psychic leap that things are too much.
It's no admission of defeat. Instead, it's a springboard to a happier existence. And that can only mean happier kids.