Deconstructing Parenting

This is my new category ‘Deconstructing Parenting’, where I will take apart some common parental beliefs that might get parents into strife from time to time. I have just chosen 8 here, but I am sure there are many more.

I think it is important to think about how these misconceptions or ‘false beliefs’ can make us feel when we fail to be able to achieve them, as we will as they are not realistic.

8 common misconceptions in parenting:

  1. That I should spend all my time with my children
  2. That I should help my children with everything
  3. That I should give my children lots of choices
  4. That the parent has all the power and control
  5. That I should be consistent 100% of the time
  6. That arguing in front of the children is bad
  7. That my children should not make mistakes
  8. That my children should not see me cry or upset

Deconstruction:

Today I will talk only about number 1.

  • That I should spend all my time with my children

 

I don’t really have any research to back this one up. It is definitely my own opinion and one I practice often. I believe it is not only healthy but essential to a parent’s mental health to have time away from children, family, spouses.

My friends will attest to the fact that I often try to get away by myself, or with friends, to have child free time. I know that I am someone who needs this perhaps more than others, but I also know some people who have much more regular trips away than I do. Everyone is different and have different needs. And then of course there are some parents who are away too much and want to spend more time at home with kids. But for this topic we are assuming that you are a parent who is mostly at home and thinking that you have to spend all your time with your children. Do you feel guilty when you leave them, or go of for time to yourself?

By the way, time at work is not time away to yourself, although I agree that it can be a nice release from constant childcare. However if you then think that you can’t have time to yourself to go shopping or for a bush walk or out to lunch with your friends, then go easy on yourself and give yourself a break. Although we love our children it is also at times feels like a job! A job you need a break from.

For me a break is usually in the form of a walk, sitting in a café drinking coffee and reading magazines, a night out with my husband, or a night away together if we can. Sometimes it is a wine out with a girlfriend/s. Less often it may be a few days or a week away with friends.

Time out or away allows you many benefits. Some of these are listed below:

  • to re-charge your energy
  • gather thoughts without interruption
  • valuable adult conversation and social interaction
  • NOT having to take care of someone for a little while
  • to be able to be yourself as the person/individual – not as a mother (even though you will always be)
  • you will become a nicer/happier mother when you are back
  • your children/family will learn to appreciate you more
  • you can finish a whole cup of coffee at once (without re-heating)
  • you can go to the toilet in peace
  • you will make your child more resilient as they experience you leaving and returning in a healthy positive way
  • your children learn that you are an individual with interests and experiences separate from them

The key is not to do it too much or too little – balance.

So go forth and give yourself some time out. See what happens to your mental health and your parenting health!

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