To serve our kids as parents, we can't allow them to be the most important part of our family. Our marriages and sense of self are deeply important.

Children Matter, But Not Above All Else

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Categories Making Time for Me, Marriage, Parenting, Perspective, Time Management

My children are not the most important thing in my life. GASP! Okay. Deep breath. Let’s try this one again.

I have four incredible, messy, beautiful, frustrating, funny and crazy children. And they are not the most important thing in my life. There… I said it.

I realize that such a statement is not a popular one, so let’s go back to the title that children matter. My children matter so much to myself and my husband. They are the reason we wake up early (too early) every morning. They are the reason that my husband works hard at his wonderful job. They are the reason I chose to leave my job and stay home after the Twinkies (#3 and 4) were born.

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These four beauties hold my heart. So why aren’t they the most important things in my life? Three big reasons: doing so makes them the center of my world, my marriage, and taking care of their mama (me) matters a whole lot.

#1 – Making my children the most important thing makes them the center of my world.

The idea of making my world revolve around my children is a problematic one for me. Making them my sole focus puts unrealistic expectations on them and gives them the job of making me happy. They are children, they are innocent, and their only job is to be a kid, not to make their mama happy. Additionally, making them the center of my world takes energies away from my marriage and self-care.

#2 – Nurturing my marriage benefits my entire family.

Special K (my hubby) and I have built a strong foundation for our marriage, but that doesn’t mean that we can forget about it and count on it to be just as strong later on. We must put time and energy into our marriage. Whether they know it or not, our children need us to nurture our marriage so that they can grow up in a happy, healthy, two parent home.

In no way am I putting down single parents or divorced parents. As a child of divorce, I know what it feels like and I nurture my marriage in the hopes of protecting my children from such feelings.

If you’re a parent, you know that your child(ren) watch everything you do… everything. This includes how I speak to my husband, how he greets me when he returns from work, how we fight and how we make up. We know that our children watch our examples, and in putting my marriage first, I am (hopefully) teaching them how to model their relationships after ours.

Okay so how do we do that?

I’m going to delve deeper into this on a future post this week, but for a few quick ideas:

  • Date night in after the kids are in bed. Easy and free!
  • Utilize offers from family and friends of help, whether that’s bringing a meal, watching kids, or something else. If people in your life offer to help, let them!
  • Get creative! We are a single income family supporting 6, but we still make time (which sometimes costs money) for our marriage. Our last date was a trip alone to the grocery store! Sexy? No. Fun and loaded with non-kid conversation? Yes! There is no limit to how creative you can get. You just have to be willing to look at things differently and be committed to taking time to take care of your relationship.

We had children early into our marriage, but we were married first. This relationship is primary for us. Someday, if we do this whole parenting thing right, our children will leave our home as independent individuals and we will be left with just each other. After our children grow up, I want my marriage to continue and I want to know and love the man that I’m sharing an empty nest with. In order to do that, I have to put him and our relationship before our children… FOR our children.

#3 – Taking care of mama so that I can, in turn, take care of the children.

Oftentimes, I find that I take care of my family before I take care of me. I’m sure that I am not alone in this. For the last year, I’ve been dealing with a major health issue that has hopefully been resolved with recent brain surgery. I had to leave my children for three very long weeks while I left the state to receive my surgery and post-operative care. Since being home, I’ve had to let others take the lead while I ensure that I don’t overdo it. Obviously, this is extreme, but the point is still valid. If I didn’t take care of myself, I would have died. Then who would be their mother?

Okay, how about a more relatable tale? With my last (twin) pregnancy, I gained about 55 pounds. I nursed both twins so the weight came off quickly, but I knew that I needed to take care of myself to keep the weight off after weaning the girls. I found a gym with daycare options and pinched and tweaked our budget for a few months while we worked the membership into it. As soon as I got the membership, I went at least every other day. I found that when I was done at the gym, I felt stronger, healthier, and more emotionally available to my children.

What I’ve learned over the past few years is that I am a better mother when I am healthy, well rested, etc. Perhaps you need 10 minutes to yourself to sneak in a walk after dinner when your spouse or friend can watch the children? Perhaps you need to skip a latte or two so you can get your hair done? Perhaps you need to go to bed 30 minutes earlier tonight so that you are better rested for your day tomorrow? Whatever it is, if you take care of their mother first, your child(ren) will have a healthier, more secure, happier life.

What things do you do to take care of your marriage/your relationship/yourself?

How do you encourage or remind yourself to take time for you?


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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SaraC

Sara is a mama of four children, two of them being surprise identical twin girls. She is happily married to the love of her life, stays home with her children and is currently homeschooling her oldest child. Most of her writing is centered around raising awareness about Crouzon Syndrome and cleft palates, advocating for your child, homeschooling and raising multiples. Find her blog at confessionsofanoutnumberedmom.com.

53 thoughts on “Children Matter, But Not Above All Else”

  1. Absolutely with you 100% on this. I firmly believe the above too, and we run a much happier ship for it but it has actually been suggested to me that it is a selfish attitude which I take offence to because a happy mama = a happy family ultimately! Great post. #twinklytuesday

  2. I absolutely LOVE this post. The points you make are so valid.

    Before my son was born I had this misguided idea that my entire life had been about this event, about being a mother. And that when I was a mum the rest of my life would just fade into the background.

    In reality this idea is completely unrealistic and, frankly, stupid. Like you say, children are a HUGE, amazing part of your world but they shouldn’t be your WHOLE world as that just leads to unhealthy parents AND unhealthy kids. Plus, at some point those kids will leave home and if you have little else that is going to be a very difficult time as a parent.

    Getting time alone is hard (and I only have one! How you do it with four is beyond me!) but so important. Hubs and I try to have a date night once a month, and when we are with my son with try to teach him to spend some time playing alone and if Hubs and I are having a conversation we are teaching him to be patient and not interrupt until we are finished (he is two so this is a work in progress!). Small things like this I believe prepare him for life and help him to become a polite, well adjusted child.

    In terms of making time for ME, I am lucky that I’m able to work part time, which is ideal for me, and those two days of adult interaction refresh me as a mum. And I also find blogging and other hobbies help me with self care too.

    Thanks for sharing such an important post x

    #twinklytuesday

  3. I am with you 100%. There is too much emphasis placed on spending quality time with the kids. I have 3 young boys and need time-outs or I will be an angry, stressed out mam. I’m going to see Trainwreck tonight with friends and cannot wait. I love to listen to the boys play together and come to solutions on their own, it’s necessary for them to become independent, mature adults.#twinklytuesday
    Aisling Ozdemir recently posted pivotMy Profile

  4. Thats a very important message. I think taking time for yourself is the hardest thing as a parent, but like you said children pick up on everything so when they see you showing yourself some kindness and respect, they in turn will learn that you are worth that kindness and respect.
    Tracey Abrahams recently posted My Tattoo Story – Part 2My Profile

  5. I wholeheartedly agree, especially about the relationship. Me and my husband have always said we don’t want our children to become the reason we forget why we had them in the first place. I love my children with every fibre of my heart but they can’t be the be-all and end-all every second of every day. Like you say, it is not fair to put that kind of pressure on them. Thanks for a great, honest post and for hosting #twinklytuesday
    Becky recently posted TV or not TV? That is the QuestionMy Profile

  6. You are absolutely right. Looking after yourself and your relationship should be a major priority. Having teenage boys, I am well aware that they will soon be heading off into their own worlds and I hope that keeping in touch with their mum won’t be their top priority (though the occasional call that isn’t just asking for money or how to cook chicken would be good!). I am more than just a mum and I think my children are all the better for that! #TwinklyTuesday
    Anita Cleare recently posted Introducing a new partner to your childrenMy Profile

  7. This is so true! Self care is not selfish, it’s sensible as if we’re nurturing ourselves and maintaining our relationships we’re better parents. (Weird that!) #twinklytuesday

    1. Hahaha, when I posted this to my personal blog, I asked my friends to read on before hating me. It’s designed to fire you up, draw you in and hopefully get you thinking. It’s a risk though! I’m glad you liked it.

  8. I am definitely showing this to my partner and making some adjustments. I always swore that our daughter would fit into our life but not become our whole life. 17 months down the line and I live everyday for her. Our relationship has taken a backseat, my life has taken a backseat and she is the sole focus. We’ve noticed recently just how much we spoil her with attention. This isn’t a bad thing and we love her so much. But she has become clingy and is losing her confidence when she goes to places alone (ie. nursery). I think it’s all about finding the balance. So many people, like me, become so absorbed in their children that it’s not healthy. This post has really made me reasses what our life should be like. I want my daughter to see me happy and fulfilled. I need to take some time to look after me (I too often don’t have enough time to exercise or look after me because i think Evie needs my attention 24/7). My partner (he’ll agree with this whole heartedly) barely gets any attention at all and some days we don’t even cuddle or exchange affection anymore because i’m too busy with our daughter. It’s awful! My blog was a way I could start getting my life back. Something for me. But this post has really made me realise that we haven’t quite got the balance right yet. Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s so thought provoking and i agree with every point you’ve made. x
    Chloe recently posted TEDDY BEAR PICNICMy Profile

    1. Wow Chloe! Your words humble me. And here I was worried before it posted that I wasn’t telling it right! It’s easy to get caught up in our precious little ones. Thankfully, tomorrow is a new day, with new opportunities to do things differently tomorrow.

  9. It’s so tough to find a healthy balance for everyone! You are so right mummys need taking care of too and mariges don’t just happen but neither of those things make as much noise as a child wanting their own way! It’s so important to do the best for everyone but that isn’t always the easiest option!!
    Claire recently posted Kids in the Kitchen #01My Profile

  10. Totally agree with this. It’s crazy to devote your entire being and reason for living to your children. I think this is something we worried about a lot before our boy came along as we are older parents and had many many years of life banked as a free and happy couple. That doesnt mean for one moment that we dont love him as much as we love life itself. But for him to be happy we need to nurture our relationship and our own spirits. Not easy in the early years but we’ve managed one night away and give each other time off at weekends. Great post. Well said. I have written along similar lines here http://dadwithoutamap.com/2015/03/06/parents-making-time-to-be-you/
    #twinklytuesday

  11. two lifetimes ago I did my SCuba Rescue Diver training.. The first principle was to learn that unless the rescuer is safe, everyone ends up drowning (or something less dramatic). I love your post and totally acknowledge that I’ve been terrible at doing all the things you mentioned which I know are important – life with twins is hectic and it’s hard sometimes to see the wood for the trees – you’ve inspired me to try harder #twinklytuesday

    1. Yay for date night! I’m currently avoiding finishing up my final “Me Time” contribution that is set to post tomorrow about making time for your partner. I have some creative ideas for your situation as I’ve been there.

  12. It’s such a tough balance, isn’t it? I completely agree that we have to lead by example, and neglecting ourselves and our partners is not a good example. Living so far from family support, we’ve let that slide a bit too much recently. Thanks for the timely reminder x Thanks for hosting x
    Sara | mumturnedmom recently posted The Prompt: PrepareMy Profile

    1. We have help and we still have to make an effort to make time for ourselves and our marriage. I really enjoyed writing this because it reminded me to be more intentional about how I choose to spend my time.

  13. I think we start at different places but end up at the same spot. My kids ARE the most important things in my life… and that’s why I need to be the best me I can be, which means nurturing myself as well as them.

  14. This has really struck a chord as I am a real one for making my children the center of my universe, which in turn can make them very demanding! Its taken a while but I can see why its not altogether healthy. Great read. #twinklytuesday
    Mama Zen recently posted Painsburys LocalMy Profile

  15. Interesting and thought provoking post. I agree that taking more care of myself means I will have the energy and strength to be a better parent. Before we moved I had a local gym with an excellent creche that I could easily walk to; now anything similar is much further and requires a bus journey. I really miss that in my life, and although I could exercise at home or go running it isn’t as easy to motivate myself. #TwinklyTuesday
    Alison recently posted Meal Plan: 31/08/15 – 05/09/15My Profile

  16. You are spot on, taking care of our relationship is very high on my priority list, I have never really thought of it in the way you said, but we are keen to have date nights at home each week and we are a very close couple, whilst my husband has been working nights alot lately we are noticing the difference, its hard when you don’t get to have that quality time together.
    I need to get better at taking care of me too. x
    Caroline recently posted My blogging corner of the houseMy Profile

  17. I could have written this myself. Recently I said to a couple of other bloggers that I didn’t love my children any more than I love my husband and this was greeted with shock and horror. Does it make me a bad mother that my children aren’t my sole focus? I don’t think so. I LOVE their father more than I can possibly say — without him, my boys wouldn’t exist. And when my Twinkles are all grown up and making lives of their own, it will be their daddy that will be *my* companion. I love my children more than life itself but I’d lay down my own life for their father too. Great post!

    Thanks for being such a patient and fabulous co-host Sadia :) #TwinklyTuesday

    Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk
    Caro | The Twinkles Mama recently posted 129 weeks and 2 days | A tiny wee milestoneMy Profile

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