Personal Time for Parents Is a Necessity
Parents who take care of their personal needs are not being selfish. Selfishness implies a lack of concern for others and is truly harmful. Constructive selfishness on the other hand, considers the needs of others and takes care of self. Parents who take care of their personal needs are happier, healthier, and better at meeting the needs of their children than parents who consistently sacrifice themselves for their kids. Constructive selfishness is a form of self-preservation and is necessary for self-respect. Children only respect parents who respect themselves. In our busy schedules, we most often neglect ourselves. Some mothers have a more difficult time than fathers finding personal time. In our society, men have been given permission to take a break from responsibilities for relaxation and enjoyment because "they earn it!".
How many mothers do you know who can take a yearly hunting trip? How many employed mothers spend the weekend on the golf course or relaxing in front of the television? Mothers have always worked and "earned" their rest. Whether they work full-time in the home or in the labor force, mothers need to take a break just as much as fathers do. Unfortunately, too many mothers work around the clock shouldering all the maintenance work of the family and are solely responsible for the children. These mothers will never get a break until they decide to take it.
Parents who need personal time must give themselves permission; but permission is one thing, finding the time is another. Parents who work outside the home are faced with all the maintenance work of the household "after work". For these parents, to take personal time seems to mean taking time away from children. If children are in day care all day, how can a parent do such a thing? Parents who stay at home with children feel that they must devote all their time to the family to justify staying at home. They feel guilty if they neglect the housework since a full-time homemaker "should" be able to keep a decent house. With all the pressures and demands of things that must be done, parents tend to see personal time as an option, something that can wait till later. Well, it can't wait.
Personal time is a daily insurance policy against the hazards of stressful living. We can neglect ourselves for a day, a week, or maybe a month but the wear and tear will begin to show. We can't afford NOT to take personal time every day. Mental institutions are very expensive. We are doing our families a favor when we take some personal time. It does not matter how much time is involved as long as it is RESERVED. When children are young, five minutes may be all that is available but if we spend those five minutes doing something that recharges our batteries, it will count. As kids get older, more time will be available.
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If time must be stolen from some other area of life, trivial household chores would be my first choice. If we can find a way to do less around the house, we can use the free time for personal use. Household chores will still be there tomorrow. Why dust unless you can see where you've been? Relaxed, happy parents are more important to a child than clean, neat houses and perfect, nutritious meals. Relax, rejuvenate, enjoy!
next: Parents Have Rights Too
Last Updated: 25 July 2014
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD