It can feel elusive in adulthood, yet it comes to young children so easily.
And still, so many parents worry about whether we are doing enough for our little ones.
We rush from A to B, wanting to enrich their lives, trying everything to equip them for a better future.
Does this need come from the expectations of society or from our hearts?
I personally believe if our children laugh every day and feel loved and understood, we are doing enough.
You know when you’re sitting on an airplane before takeoff, and the cabin crew gives the pre-flight safety demonstration?
Of course, it’s all important, but one thing stood out to me the first time I travelled with my eldest son.
We are told to put our own oxygen mask on first before putting our child’s on.
He was just a baby then, and my instinct would have been to save him first, but to do so would be a huge mistake.
If someone becomes incapacitated through lack of oxygen, they cannot help anyone else.
Putting our needs first, in this case, is essential to ensure our survival so we can then go on to help the more helpless.
Putting the child’s needs first could have tragic consequences.
We must put ourselves first sometimes.
It’s not as easy as it should be.
I struggle to find the time or the space inside my head.
I like to read last thing at night.
I stay up too late and don’t sleep enough.
I do a bit of yoga when I can.
I find it hard to stay in the moment.
I go paddle boarding with my boyfriend.
We go days without seeing each other at all.
I get half hour slots on the beach, alone—is it selfish to say I need more time?
I’m struggling to find it.
I am a single mum to two young children, and I work in hospitality. I spend a lot of time looking after other people’s needs.
Putting them before my own.
I lose it sometimes. My self-control. My keeping it all together.
I am not fragile like a flower. I am fragile like a bomb. I explode before I break.
Then I get up and put myself back together.
A few years ago, my neighbor used to babysit on Saturday nights so I could work.
Having been a single mum herself, she encouraged me to go out after work and have fun—and I did.
And I’d come home tipsy on freedom.
The next day, I’d get up in the morning and take the kids to the beach. I’d be tired and a bit hungover, yet full of this happy and slightly silly energy, which the kids loved.
Kids love it when we act silly.
Our happiness is essential to that of our children.
I’ve changed a few things recently.
Early every evening, the kids go to their room with the cats and close the door behind them.
I spend an hour cleaning and preparing dinner in peace.
They tidy their room and play with the cats, and when they come out, everything is clean, candles are lit, and I am relaxed.
We eat together, talk, and play games.
Then we do our own thing.
Sometimes, it’s me with one child or the other.
Sometimes, I leave them occupied with their tablets, and I go to do some yoga/write/go and lie down.
I used to feel guilty about screen time.
Why? Because giving children screen time carries a stigma with it.
She uses the tablets as babysitters.
Yes, I do.
The other day when I went through to the front room, my eldest was doing this silly dance. In a moment of spontaneous release, I started doing a sillier one. As soon as my youngest saw, he squealed with delight, threw down his tablet, got up, and joined in.
Happiness is infectious.
I needed that release as much as they did.
And I wonder, if I’d forced myself to hang out with them with no break between work, shopping, and cleaning, if that release would have come in the form of me snapping at them instead.
We need to let go of our own expectations.
We need to relax with our children.
We need to look after ourselves as much as we look after them.
We have to put ourselves first sometimes.
“It’s about love, and that’s what I constantly remind myself of because I kind of let society get inside my head.
Oh, it shouldn’t be like this. I did this; I did that. I failed.
And it’s like, no. They’re happy, they’re healthy, they’re loved more than anything in the world, and they’re going to be fine.” ~ Jennifer Lopez
It’s so simple, really.
The secret to happy children lies in our own happiness.
“Your kids don’t need a perfect mum. They need a happy one.” ~ Anonymous.
I don’t know who first said it, but it’s one of the wisest things I’ve ever heard.
And remember, if your children laugh every day and feel loved and understood, you are doing enough.