“I just need a little space to be me. Because it can be so easy to get lost in helping a new person become someone.”
This is a quote from a recent Humans of New York post. The guy pictured above is a young dad, who's taken a solo escape from family life in New York City for a few days.
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“My wife urged me to take this little trip to New York so that I can clear my head. It’s just for two days. But my leash has been so short lately that it feels like an eternity. Part of me definitely died when our daughter was born. I was always a free spirited person. I traveled a lot. I never had a boss. I had all the choices in the world. But a lot of that disappeared in order to make things possible for my daughter. I watch her during the day. And I’m not mad about it. This is the happiest time of my life. It would be great if my daughter was here right now. It’d be so fun to watch her run around the park. But I’d also be worried about her safety. And the diaper bag. And the car seat. And the stroller. And our next meal. And our next place to stay. There’s always a flickering flame of worry that doesn’t go away. Back home we live by the beach. And if my wife ever senses that I’m getting overwhelmed, she tells me to go jump in the ocean. And that resets me for a few days. It’s all I need. I just need a little space to be me. Because it can be so easy to get lost in helping a new person become someone.”
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There’s so much to love about this story, but here are my two favourite things:
The first is the loving gesture of a wife, who cares enough to notice that not only did her partner need some time out, she had enough reserves and kindness to suggest he take it.
What a woman!
The second is the fact that this lovely man was wise enough to heed that advice; he loves himself enough to recognise that in caring for his daughter, he deserves and needs a break. He knows it will make him a better parent and partner.
What a guy!
You can’t underestimate the importance of personal space when you’re a parent of young children.
Life can feel relentless.
Of course it’s also grounding and heartwarming and fun, but in terms of an energy drain, few things compare.
So a rest is needed
Not all of us can escape to New York City, of course. But perhaps there's a friend or a relative we can stay with for a day?
It doesn’t even need to be overnight.
Kinderling’s meditation guru Amy Taylor-Kabbaz reminds us that making better use of tiny pockets of 'space' throughout the day can give us a similar boost.
“Once the kids are asleep for nap time, it’s really important to stop and think about yourself,” says Amy.
“We have to segment our lives a little more. So when you do get that bit of space you really need to stop looking at the to-do list or the next fire to put out - for the next thing to do, take a break,” suggests Amy.
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The trickle-down effect of taking this time for yourself in the middle of the day will benefit the whole family.
Even a ten minute meditation while the kids are playing quietly, napping or watching TV can boost your energy reserves in a surprising way.
Taking time to rest also means you’ll have more energy for your partner when they return from work at the end of the day.
“Often our partners want to give to us. But we think they want us to give to them, so we can brush them off at the end of a long day with the kids. In reality, he is wanting to support and give to you and show you his support and emotional availability. Look at it as receiving. This is not something else you have to do, just sit there and ‘be',” says Amy.
So why not break the cycle?
The relentless nature of parenting can make it easy for us to feel like we’re always putting ourselves second.
Take this post as a reminder of how important it is to reward yourself with a little attention throughout the day.
It may even inspire you to share a bit with the other important person in your life, too.
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