Can you provide a quick intro on yourself?
My name is Karen and I’m happily married to my husband, Mike. We have been friends since kindergarten and have two boys; Michael 9 and Matthew 6. I was a teacher for 12 years and turned stay at home mom. I tutor K-5 children 4/5 days after school. We lead an active lifestyle, working out daily!
As an individual, what are your top 5 priorities?
- My family-taking care of my family, making sure they are happy and healthy.
- A healthy lifestyle-eating healthy and taking care of myself.
- Exercise- staying fit and in shape not only for myself but for my children also. We are their biggest role model.
- My job-Making sure I can better each and every child I work with academically and emotionally.
- 5. My friends-being there for my friends, supporting them and having them to lean on.
As a parent, what are your top 5 priorities?
- Healthy-making sure my children are healthy is my number one priority.
- Happy! If my child isn’t happy, then I am not happy.
- Kind and Caring-My husband and I always say, no matter what, please be kind and caring. There is always someone feeling left out, someone sad, or someone having a bad day. Make a difference-be kind and care.
- Motivated- it takes a lot to motivate a child, but if they are motivated, they will keep going. By being a positive role model in their life and showing them what they can do, they will mimic you.
- Make sure they ALWAYS know I love them. I may yell, get upset, or discouraged with them, but no matter what, I love them more than anything in life.
How often do you set aside time for yourself? When/if you do, how do you spend that time?
Every single morning I get up, have a cup of coffee before the kids wake up, and sit at the counter. I reflect, think about the upcoming day, and enjoy the peace and quiet. After the morning shuffle of packing lunches, getting the kids ready and dropping them off at school, I work out. Working out is MY time. I do it on the weekends too and the boys know, when Mom and Dad are in the garage working out, STAY OUT! It keeps me grounded.
What is holding you back from spending more time on yourself?
Family is my major big priority and when I take time away from them, I find myself feeling overwhelmed, rushed or behind on “life.” I can be a perfectionist, and any time I stop and change things up, or get out of routine, I feel off balanced.
Was there a time or a moment in parenthood where you feel like you realized you need to spend more time on yourself?
Every day I feel that…when I am losing my patience a little more than normal. When I am tired, rundown and have nothing left to give. I have been trying to get in bed a little earlier these days to unwind by myself, have some time to relax and just be. With my boys growing up and getting older, more activities are happening and we have jam packed days. Sometimes life is exhausting, but in the end, its also very exciting, so being with them nonstop is all worth it.
Do you believe there is a stigma that exists around parents who take time for themselves? If so, what are your thoughts on that stigma?
Yes and No. I would never judge another parent for taking more time for themselves, but I have to be honest, when my girlfriends and I do a girls weekend away, I find myself missing the boys. I find myself bummed to miss a game. I absolutely love attending their games and being with them, but I also know taking that time to go away, be myself and not worry about a thing, is healthy and needs to be done.
If you had to give advice to yourself or a friend who may be struggling to balance parenthood and their personal life, what advice would you give?
Let go of the guilt! Taking time for you will only make YOU a better parent. When your steam runs out and you have nothing left to give, the kids feel it, and they aren’t happy. I always tell myself to take the 3 major R’s. By taking time for yourself, you have the chance to regroup, recharge and relax and you will be a better YOU!
Any other general thoughts on this topic?
Parenting is hard. It can be extremely tiring. Some days you feel like you have given 100%, only to feel defeated, but I truly think, in the end, it is ourselves making us feel that way-not our spouse or our kids. Moms put too much pressure on themesrlefves to do it all. It is OK to ask for help. It is OK to take a step back and say “this can wait until tomorrow.” I am beyond grateful and lucky I have a husband who puts forth just as much effort and time into parenting. I am lucky, and every day I thank my lucky stars for my perfectly, imperfect family.