Thursday, November 17, 2011

Finding family balance

As some of you may have noticed, I've taken a bit of a break from blogging over the past couple months.  I've been trying hard to blog regularly over the past year, and I felt like I was really on a roll during July and August, but over the past couple months I've had to put blogging on the back burner while I attempted to find balance in my life.

I've learned the hard way that it is quite a juggling act to be the kind of parent I want to be, and the kind of wife and partner I want to be, and some how manage to take care of all the other stuff that needs to be done like cleaning toilets, grocery shopping, and the dreaded laundry!  Unfortunately, I have dropped the ball a lot over the past couple of years and it has caused quite a strain on our family.  I have been striving so intently to meet my childrens' needs that I was often neglecting my husband's needs and my own.

I imagine that I'm not the first attached parent who has focused so much attention on caring for her children, that taking time for herself and her spouse has fallen to the bottom of the priority list.  I imagine that most people struggle to find family balance... to try to meet everyone's needs, including his or her own.  I always had good intentions of going on dates or going to the spa (I can't tell you how many unused Groupons I have for restaurants, massages, and facials!) but somehow those things never ended up happening.

Thankfully my sister gave me this great book a couple of months ago and it really helped me to reevaluate my priorities. (Please don't automatically stop reading when you see who the author is ;o)

I realize this isn't the typical book recommendation you would expect to receive from an Attachment Parenting blog.  To be honest, I'm not a fan of Dr. Laura.  I don't agree with her point of view on many things (I doubt I would agree with much of her parenting advice), but despite her extreme over-generalizations of men's and women's personality traits and roles in life, I did learn a lot from this book.  I'm embarrassed to admit that at thirty-something years old, and five years into marriage, I was pretty clueless about the few basic things that men need to be happy.  I realized that I had gone in to hyper-mom mode over the past few years and had been neglecting my husband and my marriage.

At the same time, I realized that I had kind of been neglecting myself a bit too.  Don't get me wrong, I feel very fortunate to so thoroughly enjoy being with my children that I really don't ever feel the need to "get away".  I guess that's why it was so hard for me to see that not taking time for myself was actually hurting me and my family.  It was hard for me, hard for my girls, and hard for my husband when I was away, so I felt like it made everyone's life easier if I just always had at least one of the girls with me at all times.  I felt selfish when I thought of doing things alone, knowing my girls would be sad and my hubby would be stressed if I left.

Turns out that everyone actually suffers if I don't take a little time to myself.  Over the past couple of months I have realized that when I take a couple hours a week to do something for myself, by myself, I feel less drained and am able to give more.  I've also seen how much closer my husband and his girls have become, and how much more confident of a father he seems to be.  But the best part is how much fun my hubby and I have had going out on DATES, and how much closer we have become!

So how do you find balance in your family?  What do you do to try to ensure everyone's needs are met?  (Is that even really possible??)  I'd love to hear some perspective from my readers!


Sophie said...

Thank you so much for this post and book req. It totally hits home with me and is a wake up call. With a 3 yr old and a 9 month old who are both still nursing, co sleeping, and very much attatched to me its so hard for me to remember to take care of my husband too.

The Happy Hippie Homemaker said...

Thanks for your comment! I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who struggled with finding family balance :)


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