Parenting can seem a lot like Bill Murray's Groundhog Day, repeating the same routines and tasks day in and day out. Yes, we know it’s the most important job that could ever be done. Yes, we are aware that we are leaving our mark on the next generation. Yes, we love our children more than life itself.
Still, the truth of the matter for all parents is that parenting - like any job or calling - can be boring with all of its trappings of routine and incessant giving. Throw in a lack of sleep and a few patterns of especially challenging parenting responsibilities like explosive diaper changes, and you’ve got a parent’s version of Groundhog Day for days.
What can we do to break the repetitive cycles of parenting in order to rejuvenate ourselves (and be the best versions of ourselves for our kids)?
Plan a weekly adventure
Do something out of the ordinary with your children. A change of scenery and the feeling of adventure can go a long way. If you live in the city, drive out to a farm. If you live in the burbs, go visit a museum in the city. Try a hike on your own with the baby in a carrier. Walk near the water during a season when you wouldn’t normally visit.
These kinds of plans may mean that nap time takes place in the car or that some of your regular tasks don’t get done when they normally do, but the feelings of excitement related to doing something different go a long way. Also, no matter what goes wrong and no matter how many on the go meltdowns you may deal with, you are left with a feeling of accomplishment that inspires you to embark on more family adventures. These kinds of outings are also the memories you will look back on with longing as schedules get busier and as you see your children less and less as they make plans on their own.
Pick something special to do for yourself.
Part of what can get us stuck in a rut with parenting is the fact that we need to give of ourselves in a nonstop way while receiving very little in return. Of course, there is fun and hugs and snuggles, but the time, emotion, and energy that we put into parenting can be exhausting. Rewarding ourselves for the hard work is not something we should feel guilty about. It’s part of self care, and by taking care of ourselves, it helps us to take care of our families.
Indulging in an hour of Netflix, slipping out for a manicure, making it to our favorite yoga class, taking a walk in pure peace and quiet, reading a book with a hot cup of tea… These may seem like simple choices, but when we let ourselves become a victim of always putting others first and of following a schedule that prioritizes the needs of everyone but ourselves, fitting in these kinds of activities can re-energize us in needed and important ways.
Sometimes we simply can’t escape the confines of routine and schedules, but we still need a place to escape to. Meditation has become all the rage and been a practice that has been connected with a healthy lifestyle for thousands of years for a reason. It allows you to escape and breathe and change your surroundings no matter where you are and no matter what your circumstances may be.
For many of us, it’s hard to sit in silence without our to do list pumping its way loudly through our minds, but luckily, there’s an app - actually many apps! - for that. Apps like Insight Timer have guided meditation tracks, as well as meditation music and sounds, for every circumstance and length of time. Whether you need two minutes of escape or an hour plus of focus on starting anew, there is a free track to choose from.
You do have the power to escape your parenting Groundhog Day. May we all use this Groundhog Day to break free of too much routine and to rejuvenate!
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