Soloparenting is rough.
It’s not quite the same as being a single parent. I know that this is only temporary. But while I’m in the thick of it, caring for 3 kids under 7, including an infant who is nursing around the clock and doesn’t like to sleep, is hard.
Soloparenting is full of decisions that can make or break my sanity on any given day.
I try to balance my own needs with the needs of my kids, which is sort of like juggling sharks.
Last night, I took all of the kids to Milly’s Girl Scout meeting because they’d asked for help with their Mardi gras party. Honestly I never want to help but the momguilt started seeping in, so I chose to volunteer with 2 non-Daisies in tow.
To back up, I am a big fan of the Girl Scouts. I was a Girl Scout. My mom was even my troop leader for awhile. I loved being a Girl Scout and I love that Milly is participating in Girl Scouts, too.
What I dislike is the timing.
Girl Scouts is every other Tuesday from 6-7:30pm, right in the middle of our bedtime routine.
Not only is this hard on the baby, who literally fell asleep in the middle of a room full of fluorescent lights and screaming girls last night; it’s hard on me.
I love my nighttime routine. Getting the kids to sleep early so I have a little time to myself to decompress is essential to my mental health.
I knew I wouldn’t get that last night and I was grouchy about it.
Protecting my nights so I have easier and more enjoyable mornings is essential self-care and health care to me.
So I had to make a few choices.
I had to say no to a lot of things I wanted to do in order to take care of myself.
Basically, I set some clear boundaries for my time.
This is what I did:
I told my kids that instead of reading books, they’d just get songs.
Usually I stop reading at 7:45/50pm and then sing songs or play songs until they fall asleep around 8. Since we weren’t even getting home until 7:45 and into bed at 8, I knew I couldn’t be in bed with them for an hour and still get to bed when I wanted to.
I told myself I didn’t need to watch TV to unwind.
I don’t always watch TV at night, but lately I’ve gotten a little obsessed with Outlander (don’t judge. It’s pure escapism which this mama needs sometimes, you ken?).
Usually when I watch TV at night, I’m also folding clothes or doing food prep on my living room floor. Or nursing a baby.
Last night, I didn’t need to do any of those things and what I really needed what something that would pacify my pitta — a little clean up and organization, plus a cup of kapha aka hot tea to help calm and ground me.
I didn’t go online to post ANYTHING
I usually do my Instagram and FB posting after my kids go to bed, when I have a little space and a tiny bit of focus left.
Since I knew that I was already energetically and mentally spent, so instead of pushing it and posting because I felt I should, I stayed offline after 9pm.
I let my kids fall asleep in the living room
This happens some of the time when my kids are super wired and won’t fall asleep in bed no matter how many books I read or songs I play.
Last night was that night.
I knew that if I wanted to be in by 10pm, I needed more time to prepare and I couldn’t do that if I stayed in bed with my big kids.
So I told them that I had to leave but they could come out to the living room and cuddle on the couch until they fell asleep if they wanted. They did and my big girl was asleep within 15 minutes. My son took longer, thanks to a nap at school, so he fell asleep at 9:30. But he was able to move around more freely without waking up his sisters until he was ready to crash.
I didn’t do more than I needed to do
Yes, I could have put away the cloth diapers or cleaned off my work space, but I didn’t. I could have done more food prep or put away some of the mess in my yoga room, but I didn’t. Honestly, there were quite a few things that didn’t get done before the sun went down that were on my list, but I chose not to do them in service of getting into bed when I wanted to.
So why did I make these choices?
If it’s not obvious, I made these 5 choices because protecting my night was more important than getting things done.
Self-care is a choice. Often, self-care is actually a series of choices that contribute to an overall feeling or desire. Self-care isn’t always a specific action like getting on your yoga mat or an evening meditation. Self-care can be the choice to create boundaries that protect your energy.