I wrote recently about social isolation. Over the years it has affected me and is something that I have learnt to spot and deal with from the onset. But, this concept of looking after yourself, brings along another emotion with it. Which in turn can revert back to social isolation if it is not monitored closely.
Parent guilt can raise itself in many guises. Have you spent all day cleaning the house and not enough time playing with the kids? Or have you been busy with work and forgotten an important day at school. Perhaps, homework has been forgotten? Maybe you have been having so much fun on a family outing that you completely forgot about a birthday party that your kids should have been attending?
All of this is part of normal parenting. It happens. Yes, it makes us feel like terrible parents. This is parent guilt.
As part of my own self care, I have started to do stuff. I don’t mean the normal stuff. I have learnt to have hobbies again. Do things for me. You know……. Look after myself.
However, this looking after myself malarkey has caused another form of parent guilt to appear at the forefront.
When I first became a single parent, I struggled to find things to do when the kids went to their mums every other weekend. I would busy myself with housework, or extra proper work. In general I would lock myself away and think only about the kids and wonder if they are ok.
As part of this ‘new me’ program I needed to remind myself of a range of activities I enjoy participating in without my kids. I now go to the football with friends on a regular basis, I visit or socialise with friends. One of my new found activities is something that I have planned for today.
The sun is out, the temperature is warm, so when a friend suggested that we go kayaking this morning I jumped at the chance.
Over the winter period we have let it slip a little. But last summer, many a day was taken up with my friend and I gently paddling down the local river. Or if feeling a little more adventurous, we would head out to sea and battle the waves and tide. The odd occasion, we combined the two, paddle down the river, leaving the harbour and joining the many beach goers at our local beach.
The first time I went out for the day with my mate, I knew the kids would love it. I knew that they would have a great time out kayaking, eating softy ice creams and relaxing. I felt terrible that evening that I had been out, had fun and for a small amount of time not thought about the kids.
At the time I didn’t consider that I do things with the kids all the time, we eat ice cream together fairly regularly. These things are just normal parenting.
It took a while and a few more trips to the football or aimless drifting down a river to finally understand that I was actually being me again. Finding my own mindfulness and interacting socially. Which in turn will enable me to parent better and stay mentally strong.
I was having me time and do you know what? I was starting to enjoy it too.
At some point we all suffer with parent guilt and that is fine. That is part of parenting. Fingers crossed I have emerged from the guilty abyss. Now I can channel that emotion into making me a better parent (I hope).
If you have enjoyed reading this and if you want to read more about my quirky way of seeing things, please go and check out my other posts. If you want something tasty, cheap and healthy to feed the troops, make sure you go and take a look at the latest recipes.