“It Takes A Village”, “No Man (or Woman!) Is An Island”, and my personal favorite “Together We Achieve That Which No One Can Achieve Alone.”
These are all slogans that emphasize the reality of raising children – we all, every one of us, need other people if we are going to have consistent, quality Mommy Time-Outs so that we can be better parents to our children.
Can you make things happen by yourself? Of course you can. You do it all the time. And single parents out there know all too well what it means to “go it alone.” But I bet even they have a babysitter’s number handy, have at least one child registered at a daycare or community group, or have a family member waiting in the wings, ready to help watch the kids while mom or dad is at work.
In other words, while we can definitely get things done by ourselves, we can get a LOT more done, and be more effective, when we have a support group around us.
And the great thing about support groups is that they go both ways. Yes, the other parents/friends/family are there for you, but guess what? You are also there for them.
Now, I know that to some of you this may seem like a big commitment, but surprisingly it isn’t, especially if the person(s) supporting you have kids of their own. When I started trading kid-watching time with other parents, I found it was actually just as easy – if not easier – than when it was just my own children I was watching. Why? Simply put, automatic playdate! Their kids kept my kids busy, they all wore each other out, and I was able to have a bit of peace and quiet while they played in the next room.
What if they don’t have children of their own to trade time with? Often, believe it or not, just time with your kids is payment enough for some – like grandma, aka “Oma” in our house. Other times I have given back by watching a friend’s dog while she was out of town, or simply just paid my single, financially struggling friends some money. Regardless of who I reciprocated with, I always felt better knowing they were getting something they really needed.
I think it goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway, that whomever you decide to ask to watch your kids, make sure it is someone who has proven to you time and again they can be trusted around children, are responsible, and are healthy enough to manage your child(ren) while you are away.
So make a list of all the people in your life that you trust to watch your children, give them a call, and start setting up a support group with this simple narrative: “Hey, you want to get some time (or money) for yourself? Let’s help each other out!” Tell them your idea of trading “playdates” or babysitting for x, and then start scheduling.
We can raise our children by ourselves, yes, but having a trusted support group to help share the burden will go a long way in making you a more balanced, effective, patient and rested parent because that support group will help you take your much-needed, well-deserved Mommy Time-Outs. Just as important, you will give to your friends and family something they really need, whether it’s money, time with your kids, or an overdue “me-time”.
Do you have a support group already in place? How did that happen? If not, what obstacles are challenging you to be a part of one? We want to hear from you!