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A Parenting Tip - Do You Crave Time Off?

Oct 30, 2007
Parenting can be funny, exciting, boring, thrilling, challenging, confusing, satisfying, uplifting, maddening, frustrating, unreasonable, exhausting, silly, and more.

Because of that fact, sometimes, as a parent, you just need a break.

This parenting tip is not to be taken lightly. Parenting your children will be the wildest ride you ever take. It is certainly the most demanding of jobs. And, as you probably have already noticed, it's a 24/7 position.

With no paid vacations.

To be the parent your kids need you to be, you've got to take some regular breaks. How many? How often? That depends upon you and your family situation. In addition, be careful about playing the comparison game. You may need more or less time off from parenting than other parents you know.

How do you know if it's time to take a parenting break? If you are on the verge of burnout...you already know you need a break. Yesterday. And if you are proudly sharing stories with other parents of how long it has been since you've had a REAL break from parenting (the kind where someone else actually takes over the responsibility of parenting for a period of time...even an hour), then you need to stop and plan your next time off. I've certainly been guilty of over-extending my commitment as a parent and under-nourishing my true self. It's not something to be proud of. It's something to pay attention to.

Here are some ideas for taking that well-deserved parenting break.

-- A full fledged vacation. Just your spouse and yourself. (Who?)

If you're having trouble remembering that guy or gal you originally signed up with to parent alongside of, this parenting tip may be for you. Lack of money and babysitters were always my excuse; if that's the case with you, too, start putting away a little cash today and circle a date on the calendar. Anticipation is a wonderful thing and the time will give you ample opportunity to find that totally responsible person to watch your kids.

Trust me. This getaway doesn't need to be expensive. In fact, working out the creative details together with your spouse can make for even more pleasant memories.

-- Who will be in charge?

If you live far away from extended family (we always did), babysitters may be scarce. One solution to this is to get involved. Find a family-oriented house of worship and dive in. Hook up with classes at your local YMCA. Volunteer at your school. In other words, look for opportunities to make friends with other parents. These are the folks who have similar needs and frustrations.

Eventually you might be able to set up a kind of babysitting co-op where each family takes turns taking care of each others' kids so everybody gets regular parenting time-off without breaking the bank. (Important parenting tip: DO look for people of similar values to your own so you know your kids will be cared for by people who share your sense of parenting.)

-- All by yourself.

Maybe you need some personal time off from being mom or dad. Then my parenting tip for you is to take some time to rejuvenate yourself as a human being. If you recognize this need, talk to your partner. He or she may be feeling the same way and all the two of you need is to juggle your schedules for both of you to be able to take a break.

Are you a single parent? Your parenting challenges are even greater, to be sure. And your need for time off can increase since you don't have the natural breaks built in like a two-parent family can have.

Again, look for ways to meet other single parents and work together on this issue for the mutual good.

-- Think deeper...

Make sure your parenting break will genuinely refresh you by considering the type of rest you need. Do you crave solitude? Or adult conversation? A gaggle of girlfriends? Or an exciting adventure? Pampering? Or time learning something new and stimulating?

Truthfully, the quality of your time off will be as important as the quantity. We're often pretty good about planning the 'where' and 'what' of our breaks, but often we neglect the deeper needs of our soul. Think about what you would do if you had no restrictions; plenty of time and money and no responsibilities. Then ask yourself what your answer means to you.

Parenting is an enormous responsibility and requires genuine fortitude. To pull off such a task successfully, you'll need to take enormous and extreme care of yourself over the years. Whether it's an extra date night twice a month with your spouse, a lone weekly college class, or an all-out get-out-of-town vacation, taking calculated time off from parenting is a parenting tip you'll need to put (and keep) at the top of your list.
About the Author
Colleen Langenfeld has been parenting for over 26 years and helps other moms enjoy mothering more at http://www.paintedgold.com . Visit her website and pick up another parenting tip today.
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