Do your children fit in around your life?
Or does your life fit in around theirs?
If you’re a parent, you will definitely have an opinion on this.
Do you build your life and your activities around what will keep your children entertained and happy?
Or, do you fill your weekends with what makes you / your partner happy and the kids fit in around this?
In reality, I think most parents try to find a balance – baby classes in the morning, followed by seeing friends in the evening…..a children’s party in the afternoon, followed by going to the cinema in the evening.
I don’t remember the last time I went to the cinema with my other half – but you get the idea!
But it struck me, that sometimes people find the balancing act really hard to do and that invites to an adult-focussed activity – like meeting in a pub for lunch, can fill parents with dread.
This happened to me a few weeks ago. My sister and I were invited to my brother’s house, which is a few hours’ drive from each of us – he was working in the morning and suggested that we meet in a pub for an afternoon drink and dinner.
Ordinarily, this would have sounded like a pretty good plan – chill out, have a beer, chat and relax – a lovely way to spend a Sunday.
That is until my sister reminded me that we had 4 children between us – of which 2 were just 1 year olds!
I had blissfully and a little naively said, of course a Sunday pub lunch would be delightful, without actually thinking through some of the practicalities of what this could involve.
My sister, however, with 3 children under her belt, is a little more savvier when it comes to the challenges of when and where you take children.
So, this led me to question whether perhaps I, with only 1 child don’t think through the complexities of situations like this, because I’ve never experienced the pain of them before. Whereas, my sister, with her wisdom and knowledge of being on her third 1 year old, just instantly knows that some situations are just tricky.
Or – is it actually that we just have different parenting styles and I want my daughter’s life to fit around mine and my partners, so we can continue to enjoy everything we used to?
Working full time has often led me to question the precarious parenting balancing act – whether I give my daughter enough time, love, attention to make her a happy, healthy toddler. You can read more of my thoughts on that here: https://mycircle.org.uk/working-mum-guilt/
The fact that I suddenly realised that I was more than happy to take her to a pub for an afternoon and hadn’t even remotely questioned the idea, highlighted that perhaps I wasn’t taking into account her needs enough.
What could she find possibly entertaining and stimulating about the environment I was about to put her in?
But the answer, I figured out, was actually quite simple – there was going to be a whole lot of love there and from this, she gained everything.
Her cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Mum and Dad surrounded her. Chatting, laughing, catching up and enjoying each other’s company – and of course, playing with her and all of her cousins.
This all helped to build up her social skills, which I think are crucial in a child’s development. And are a real asset in later life.
This is not an excuse for justifying why I thought it was ok to go to the pub! And it was chaotic and full-on…
But seeing family, spending time with them, is and was so important – for our well-being….but also for our daughters too.
The madness was totally worth it!!
So when you’re next questioning – ‘Do your children fit in around your life? Or is it the other way round.
Think about what you are about to do. Who is it for and what will your family get out of it?
You might find that actually everyone will benefit, because of the environment and enjoyment of being with people you all love.
Let me know your thoughts…I’d love to hear them.