Some may say you can never spend too much time with your kids, but I have to disagree with this sentiment. I agree family comes first and children need a big chunk of your time, but there are times when you can spend too much time with your kids.
A well-balanced parent needs a mix of parenting time, alone time and time with a spouse. Here are my thoughts on the topic and a few ideas to strike a good balance.
Can a parent spend too much time with her child/children?
Yes. The saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” is the perfect way to sum this up. Your child grows and develops surrounded by a variety of people—whether it’s grandparents, teachers, caregivers or friends. Entire reliance on one parent can actually be detrimental in establishing their independence, especially outside of infancy. Every parent needs a healthy break away from their children (and job) for hobbies, friends, gym and such. This is even more crucial for the stay-at-home mom or dad.
Why is it important for a parent to find a balance between ‘me time’ and spending time with the kids?
Our children should always be a top priority in our life, however, everyone needs ‘me time’ regardless of whether you’re a working or stay-at-home parent. Life will never offer the perfect balance, but if a parent isn’t rested, healthy and happy the family will suffer. Time alone or with a friend offers a parent time to clear their head, time to de-stress, take care of their health and an opportunity to relate to others outside of home and the workplace.
What type of parent is particularly susceptible to burnout related to a lack of this balance?
Any parent with very little time away from their child/children is susceptible to burnout. A stay-at-home mom (or dad) and one who homeschools is far more prone to burnout. It’s so important for parents to get time with other adults to relate to and time alone to decompress. Without healthy breaks, parents are at high risk for becoming less patient and frustrated, can become less “present” for their children and sometimes show signs of depression. Caring for children is tough–there are no real breaks, kids have constant demands, sibling disagreements and you must provide them with activities to keep their day full. It’s not for the weak!
How can she carve out some time for herself in an effort to find balance?
– Find a gym that offers childcare (sometimes free or very affordable)
– Find other parents in your neighborhood to form a childcare coop with and take turns caring for each other’s child/children
– Start a group in your neighborhood or one through church; the children can play together while the parents have time to chat over a cup of coffee
– Have the other parent take the kids out to the park or have time alone with the kids at home so you can escape for a bit
– Organize a babysitter share with a neighbor and have the person watch all children
– Put “me” time on the calendar like any other appointment and keep to it
– If a break is nearly impossible, take the kids out with you for a walk or to the gym, meet up with other parents and get yourself out of the house
– Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Hang in there! Parenting is the most challenging job you’ll ever hold, but with a plan, things will look up and be far more manageable.
Guest post written by: Robert Nickell, aka Daddy Nickell, father of 7, offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of Daddyscrubs.com, delivery room duds and daddy gear for dads, and the Daddyscrubs.com blog where he covers topics about parenting and the latest baby and kids gear, all from a Dad’s perspective.