Since the entire "First things First" series is Hartley's brainchild, I was really looking forward to reading her entry. It doesn't disappoint.
You can read it here...
All Showers Lead to Australia
Hartley Steiner is the author of; This is Gabriel Making Sense of School, A Book About Sensory Processing Disorder. She is also a contributing writer at Grown In My Heart (www.growninmyheart.com). Hartley's eldest son Gabriel struggles with Sensory Processing Disorder, High Functioning Autism, Bipolar and Learning Disabilities. She is a sensational writer-mom and I'd encourage everyone to follow her blog "Hartley's life with three Boys" at http://www.hartleysboys.com/.
My thoughts (don't read these until you've read the article).
This article touched a raw nerve for me. It's not that I don't take care of my own needs - I do. Sort of. Every day is mostly the same for me. I get up, shower, go to work (before the kids are awake). I work long hours and don't have a huge amount of social contact at work (I actually like it that way). I come home late and have a short while to eat dinner and be bombarded with the kids babble before they go to bed. Then I talk to my wife and watch a DVD.
There are variations, weekends particularly, and scout nights but generally my life is the same every day. To a certain extent, I'm stuck in a rut. Right now, taking care of my own needs tends to mean that I read books on the bus or that I go shopping and buy DVDs to cheer myself up. I used to say to my wife that I only buy DVDs when I'm feeling depressed. The fact that I have 2,328 says a lot about my feelings.
My wife is in a similar, dare I say worse(?) rut. Her days involve much more child support because she somehow has to get them ready for school in the mornings - and help them with their homework in the afternoons. She also doesn't have the luxury(?) of going to work where she can hold adult conversations.
It's funny but like Hartley's husband, I'll occasionally throw a lifeline out to my wife. I'll offer her the chance to go out without the kids or suggest that we do something different. I'm always surprised that it's rarely taken up. It looks like something she'd want to do. It's tempting, but somehow her responsibility to the family always ends up being put first.
The thing is; my kids have set weekday routines and set weekend routines (they both have tutoring on the weekend too). We're stuck in such a rut just caring for our kids that we've neglected ourselves.
I'm not saying that I'd like to go on holidays - though, of course it would be great. It's much simpler than that. I've got friends who I never see anymore because I'm too caught up in the here and now with my family to think about anything else. I'd love to just go out and have dinner with them more than twice a year.
Then there's the health issues. Last year was a difficult one for us. Both my wife and I had big issues. In my case, I was hospitalized with a heart issue. A lot of the problems stem from us not taking care of ourselves. We're just too busy.
Hartley's suggestions are great ones. Start with the little things, like showers and work upwards from there. Reclaim your life. You can have life and family too.