So, at the tail-end of this week's Parenting Challenge, I've noticed two interesting trends in the emails/comments I've received: (1) Many of us don't know where to start when it comes to taking care of ourselves and (2) A lot of us don't so much want "me" time as we want quality "us" time with our partner (AWAY from the kids).
To address the first issue, I wondered if we could all contribute one or two ideas for those parents out there so sleep-deprived and stressed that they can't even begin to THINK about what might make them feel just a little bit happier. If you're one of those parents lucky enough to have figured out how to balance (well, ok, at least CONSIDER) your own needs, what do you do to feel good? We could all use a little inspiration. And let's take stuff like exercise and taking vitamins OFF this list for now. These things often trigger too much guilt for those of us <cough>LIKE ME<cough> who can't get our butts out to the gym or remember to get to the health food store. What makes you feel lighter, happier, taken care of, centered? Even for just a very short while?
I'll go first: (1) dropping my kids at preschool and then hightailing it to the local French cafe ALONE, with only my cappuccino and pain au chocolat to keep me company and (2) Going to a movie with a girlfriend after putting the kids to sleep (and leaving my husband to babysit).
Now, what about all of us who are craving a bit more quality time with our partners? First off, let me tell you that you are NOT alone. A relatively recent meta-analysis confirms what most of us suspected, kids are NOT good for romantic relationships. Are any of you in the mood to read a whole meta-analysis? I didn't think so. Here's the abstract at least, to give you the gist of the results:
From a less rigorously empirical perspective, I have to admit that it's been a real eye-opener for me to read emails about how many people find this so challenging. So many of us wish we could spend more time "like the old days" before kids, talking with our partners about something other than diapers and hours of sleep clocked. And then there's that whole sex thing… yeah, not so much. Just the other day, one of my favourite bloggers, Julia (of Here Be Hippogriffs... you guys DO read her, right?) posted about the ever-so-common libido dip (or in my case, more like PLUNGE) that mothers so often report. Not only did Julia fess up to her own concerns, but her readers provided reams and reams of comments, most commiserating with her, some suggesting strategies that have helped get things back on track (ahem). Go read them. If you're like me, you'll find the discussion very informative and perhaps even inspiring.
Aaaaand, finally, I leave you at the cusp of the weekend with another awesome source of inspiration: The Mominatrix's Guide to Sex. This fabulous little advice book is aimed specifically at parents who want to get their mojo back (suffice it to say that I had the book Express Mailed to my house;-)). It's full of fabulous tips that cover everything from the early post-partum pragmatics all the way up to fun toys and video reviews. It's written by Kristen Chase (of Motherhood Uncensored), another one of my all-time favourite bloggers and mom of THREE kids who still manages to nuzzle up to her husband more than once per season <gasp>. She's funny as all get-out and dares to write about all the stuff I wish I had the guts to ask my OB. What I like best about her book is that it's clear she has SO been there: the sleep-deprivation, the body image issues, the awkward silence when the toddler walks into the bedroom. And for those of you who are sick and tired of me talking about partners, she's got a chapter for the single mothers out there too.
That's all I've got… What about you?