Parenting is not easy and as we answer the demands, cries, and needs of our children we can be unaware that we are suddenly feeling alone in our parenting role. This can be more difficult when we feel disconnected from our partner or even ourselves and significant friends. When left unchecked, isolation in parenting can lead to burn-out, exhaustion, and difficulty regulating our own emotions. Parents can become aware of isolating feelings by recognizing these important warning signs.
Do you feel your own self-identity and freedom have become lost in a fog? As if all you can focus on is the pairs of pajamas on the floor, the next grocery list, and the endless schedule of appointments and activities? This is where many of us parents struggle with guilt because part of our self-identity is loving our kids and we feel guilty if we expend any energy caring for ourselves. Take a look at your day and week. What parts are there just for you? What are the barriers and excuses that prevent scheduling the time to care for yourself? Instead of tackling every conceivable issue on self-care, just focus on one solid one today and again tomorrow. Getting control back in your personal health in small doses builds relief immediately and starts positive momentum.
Have the needs of your child so consumed your energy that there is nothing left over for you personally? Tonight when I put my daughters to bed one of them reviewed part of her day that was not so great. This is how the brain takes memories that were hard and brings them back to awareness to make sense out of them. Adults need this too. Have you made sense of your day today? Take some quiet time in a comfortable place in your home and think about the events of the day for you (not your child).
Have you noticed that your interaction and closeness with your partner and/or your close friends and family have diminished? Many couples are task oriented and functional. We do the laundry, work, schedule appointments, help our kids make the animal diorama for their class, and take a $2.99 chicken and turn it into a four course meal with leftovers. All these necessary tasks can crowd our calendar as well as our mind. Being aware of the pace can help redirect our focus and awareness to our spouse and friends. Take one step today to connect with your partner or friend. It does not have to be a major thing. Stay in the kitchen a few minutes longer and engage each other. Disconnect from devices and connect to one important person in your life.
Isolation is not an uncommon experience for many parents. Taking a closer look at how we spend our day, care for ourselves, and connect socially with others can help prevent isolation and refresh us in our parenting role.
© 2014, Dean Wisdom