Have a think about all of the people who YOU are responsible for caring for. Your children, your spouse, yourself - not to mention other close family members and friends in your life.
Wow. It gets a little overwhelming right?
Juggling all of your different roles in life can be extremely hard. Especially within the family unit, when you are trying to be a good parent AND still maintain intimacy with your spouse. Sometimes we get so caught up in meeting the needs of others that we neglect our own, or feel guilty if we DO manage to get some alone time.
Although it may not always feel like it, you ARE already doing an amazing job. There is no one right method when it comes to parenting and balancing family life!
However, we at SaveMyMarriageToday have done a bit of research into the most common factors which contribute to stress and dysfunction in family relationships. From our findings, we have created four highly important tips to help YOU to maintain a harmonious family environment.
Continue below to find out how you can nurture your children, your marriage AND yourself.
1. Stay on the same page
If you’re a parent reading this article, I probably don’t need to tell you just how much EASIER and more EFFECTIVE it is to parent when you and your spouse are on the same page. This means being consistent with expectations, consequences and boundaries for your children.
Have you ever asked your child not to do something only to hear “But mommy/daddy said I could!” and then had this lead to a full on tantrum? Which has later led on to an argument with your spouse about why he or she had permitted this particular behaviour?
There is nothing more frustrating.
Your child feels confused and upset for being denied, you feel frustrated for having to deal with their tantrum and for your partner’s decision-making, and your partner feels blamed for how they chose to parent. Not a happy picture.
What went wrong? The fact that you didn’t KNOW your spouse had set that expectation with your child, not necessarily what it was they had said.
Don’t worry, this will happen from time to time.
But the best way to prevent this tense situation from happening is to make sure you and your spouse are regularly communicating about your parenting. Discuss how the kids are going, what is working and what isn’t, and agree on any limits you have set. For example, three common culprits of parents giving mixed messages are bedtimes, food treats and TV watching time.
With clearer expectations, your children’s behaviour will become more manageable as they will have a greater understanding of what is acceptable.
It can be hard to continually be on the same page when you and your spouse have busy and conflicting schedules, but even regular 5 minute conversations will really make a difference in running your household more smoothly and creating a tighter family unit.
It will also be great for sparking feelings of closeness in your marital relationship, as you will feel that you are working AS A TEAM rather than against each other.
2. Enjoy the special moments
Parenting is hard work.
Sometimes it seems like a miracle just to get your kids up and ready for school in time. You’re tired, you’re stressed, you’re trying to organise a million things at once. Why can’t they just do what you ask??
You finally get home, take a breath, and immediately feel guilty for all the things you DIDN’T get round to doing with your children that morning. Looking at their latest artwork, helping your daughter finish her puzzle, or shooting some hoops with your son in the driveway.
It is all too easy to get caught up in the everyday organisation and chaos of family life. During these times we can tend to focus on the negatives and miss out some of the really special moments with our children.
Every time your child is asking for your attention, they are giving you a chance to connect. One minute of your full attention to take in and praise the picture they drew for you is all it can take to fill their heart with joy.
Whenever you can, make sure you take the opportunity to enjoy these golden moments with your children.
Remember, the greatest gift we can give our children is our time.
Take a moment with your spouse every once and a while to truly take in and appreciate the amazing young people you have helped to nurture and grow. Allow yourself to be awed with all the progress they have made!
Making time to recognize the achievements and love of your children will give you both the resilience and perspective to get through difficult times.
3. Make ‘mom and dad’ time
Feeling disconnected from your spouse in the chaos of family life?
No matter how busy or stressful things get, there are so many little things you can do to let each other know you care. A kiss good morning, a text during the day, or a meal saved after a late night at work.
These small gestures of love do not take a lot of time but are so important in keeping the connection alive when times are tough.
When was the last time you and your spouse had a night without the kids?
Feel like it’s impossible? Make the time – you deserve it.
Pick a date that suits you both and organise a babysitter to look after the kids for the night.
What you do for your special night is up to you, but make sure it is something yourself and your spouse will both enjoy. This may be getting dressed up for a steamy night out dining and dancing, or it could just be a relaxing night in snuggling upon the couch together with a glass of wine.
All that matters is that you have quality time to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company.
4. Make time for yourself
You may be thinking ‘How does taking time for MYSELF help me to be a good spouse and parent?’
Think back to all of those people you listed earlier, who YOU are responsible for caring for.
Sometimes we get so caught up in doing things for our family that we never take time for ourselves. This can cause us to burn out and feel tired and moody, meaning we are not much fun for anyone to be around.
When we take time out for ourselves to focus on our own needs and desires, we are actually helping those around us. This time allows us to relax, wind down, pursue our own interests, and refuel our stores of tolerance and generosity.
When we are satisfied within ourselves, we are able to give so much more to others.
It can be really hard to find time for yourself, especially when you and your spouse are both working, and when your children are younger. But it can work.
Have a conversation with your spouse each week to work out when it will suit for each of you to have ‘me time’. Perhaps you would really like the time to go to a weekly gym class, go shopping, or even just read a book in peace. Having regular breaks from your family life to focus on yourself will allow you and your spouse to maintain a healthy sense of personal fulfilment.
So go for it – make ‘me’ time and don’t feel guilty about it. The positive effects for your family life will speak volumes.