When I talk to other parents, whether they have 1 or 2 or more children.. or whether they have just entered into parenting or are now in their 4th + more year of parenting, the conversation generally goes like this;
"Oh, it's so hard!... Parenting is just hard!...". [If they have two children, they would say to those that have 1, oh you haven't experienced anything yet!... and of course those that have 1.. would share with those that are expecting, that "it's so much harder than expected...!].
...So then I'm inquisitive, I generally ask the question - "What is hard about it?" I understand that everyone has a unique circumstance, and I'm genuinely curious about the challenges that arise while we are on this journey of parenting.
When I dig deep, this answer generally comes up - "I have no time for myself!".
If they are open, I will continue to dig deeper and ask them to elaborate.
What most parents are longing for is that sense of "belonging to themself". To know that they own their time, they own their choices, and they are the master of their life.
"Me-time" is perceived as the access to that feeling and experience of "I own my life. I have a say in how my life goes..."
If we dig really deeper on the frustrations and challenges that arise in parenting - it can come down to "not being in control, an addiction to perfection, the fear of uncertainty, or the capacity for acceptance and embracing what is. The latter is all about being present". (These challenges AREN'T unique to parenting ;) )
Each day in parenting is an opportunity to practice being present. To let go of the past and to reign in the thoughts that are fueled by a Fear of the future.
On the surface, the challenges we face seem to be about sleeping, feeding, continuously holding the baby, not having a break, no time for ourself or each other.....all things "external" to our inner world.
The irony, even if you solve all these "challenges" - as your child grows, there are new challenges.
The peace that most are seeking can only be found within.
We have been "programmed" to think that peace of mind, joy, gratitude, that sense of wholeness, that sense of belonging and feeling empowered in life is a result of taking specific actions to create certain outcomes - and then, and only then can we feel worthy, can we allow ourself to feel at peace with life - and within our own self.
I'm not saying that parenting isn't challenging - there are challenges, and it isn't what we think it is.
The challenges have nothing to do with our children. The real challenge is our willingness to dig deep and heal - heal all the parts of ourselves that feel unloved, unworthy, that we deem as broken, the fearful parts, and all that is between ourselves and that sense of "wholeness".
The challenge lies in breaking the bonds we have created to things outside of us to feel worthy. It is accepting that I am not my career or my achievements. I am not my bank account. I am not "just a parent". My worth is not a result of the label I have placed on myself.
The real challenge is to believe we are worthy of love and wholeness at this moment.
An abundant amount of "me-time" isn't the answer to creating a healthy sense of self-worth.
When all that is external to you is used as the measure for your self-worth, inner-peace can never be found.
So even if you have 10 hours of "me-time" - how are you going to see the challenges differently? Would you feel a sustainable, long-lasting difference within your spirit?
So, what if, instead of wishing for more "me-time" we VALUED the "me-time" we had? What we focus on expands.
Firstly, I want you to know; I'm all for self-care. I know self-care is the access to thriving and feeling empowered as a parent.
Self-care isn't about the quantity of "me-time" - and rather the quality in how you spend your "me-time".
I know those that spend "me-time" aimlessly surfing social media going down the rabbit hole of "comparison" and feeling unworthy. **Ok, who am I kidding, I've been there many, many times. I feel like *crap* afterwards - NOTHING nourishing about spending precious minutes on mindless surfing.
If we are spending our days unconsciously focusing and obsessing on the lack of time, that experience of "lack" isn't just limited to time. It is a symptom that we feel "lack within ourselves".
Feeling lack within ourselves is an opportunity to reflect on our choices; how we are spending our time? With whom are we spending our time? And what's the quality of our thoughts through time?
The gift of parenting is that it is a wake-up call.
A wake-up call that makes you realise how precious time is as a commodity - and now you are presented with one of the most powerful choices. How are you going to spend your time?
Complaining, in resentment, in frustration of reality, in blame, in feeling like a victim, in feeling like you have no choice OR... are you going to spend time in compassion for yourself and your learning journey, to dig deep and heal the wounds from the past, to lean into vulnerability, to have courageous conversations with your partner about this parenting journey and life, and be in an enquiry of how to feel empowered with this new season of life?
Whether you have 5 minutes or an hour of "me-time" - are you grateful for what you have or are you thinking "it's never enough"? Are you committed to seeing the challenges with an open heart and mind or are you continuously focused on how "stuck" you are and craving for something outside of you to fix how you feel inside?
...And how are you spending those minutes or hours? Are they spent on nourishing your mind, body, and spirit (true self-care) or are you indulging in all that doesn't serve you?
I get it. I know what it's like to have a child on you 24/7. Trust me, I so get it.
....AND I'm not a martyr, nor a hero.. and I have no interest in being a super-mum. I don't do self-sacrifice or survival.
In those early days; I valued the "me-time" I had. It was the 10 minutes waking up a little earlier to have a shower in the morning and the feeling that I owned my day.
It was the 20 minutes of meditation as Avery was napping on me knowing that this 20 minutes of meditation are building blocks to my emotional wellbeing.
"Me-time" was reading a nourishing eBook to fuel my mind while I was feeding Avery in bed.
In that first year of Motherhood, my relationship to time dramatically shifted. I valued time more than I ever had before.... I valued "me" more than ever before.
Now - did I fall from grace and slip into bad habits. Absolutely!! And in those moments, I forgave myself, I tuned into compassion - and did better the next day.
What I know is that if we can master being grateful and value the 5 minutes of "me-time" that we have OVER wishing that we had more "me-time", we are shifting into a powerful habit of "owning our time".
If you can't own 5 minutes and see it with gratitude and joy - even if you had an hour or three - it would still occur as "lacking" and "never enough".
Once we master "owning our time" - we make different choices in life. We are conscious of how we choose to spend our time. That's more powerful than you realise - for you are now genuinely crafting your life.
My wish for you isn't that you have more "me-time". My wish for you is that you feel connected, worthy, and know that nothing is lacking within you.