The Family Project: ‘me time’
Q. I am a stay-at-home mom of three: ages 8, 6 and 4. My husband works long hours, and we have no family in the area to help out. I have started gaining weight, and often feel sad and lonely. I know I should take time for myself, but I don’t know how. Any advice?
The panelists had a number of suggestions, ranging from things the mom could do for herself to ways she might connect with other adults.
The discussion began by explaining that part of dealing with the situation was to not feel guilty about wanting to have time to herself.
“Parenting is difficult at best,” panelist Mike Daniels observed. “The mother needs to take care of herself in order to be there for the children. It’s like being on an airplane, and a parent having to put on her oxygen mask before helping her child.” Often, parents think they don’t have time to do something they want, panelist Chad Stefanyak said, “but if you schedule something, you’ll find that you are able to work other things around it.”
Panelist Denise Continenza noted that time off doesn’t have to be a whole afternoon, but just 45 minutes. “It could be during the four-year-old’s nap time.”
Suggestions for activities include: videotapes and phone apps for exercise or yoga, or searching for recipes for healthy snacks. “It’s easy to get locked into kids’ television shows and the kind of food they eat,” Stefanyak said. “You don’t realize you’ve lost all contact with the adult world. So, take time to watch a program you like, and treat yourself to an adult meal.” Panelist Pam Wallace talked about the mother’s need for adult interaction, noting that there were a number of “moms’ groups” on Facebook. “The mom might want to try and get involved with one of them, just to have other adults with whom to talk or share experiences.”
Wallace also suggested the possibility of working with a neighbor to trade off watching each other’s children to free up some personal time. She might even make contacts to do this through the PTA at her older children’s school, suggested Daniels, who urged the mother to try and make connections outside the home. “If she lives where there is a sense of community,” Cintinenza suggested that she consider helping start a parent co-op. Information is available at “Better Kid Care” online, at Penn State Extension.
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, Program Coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Denise Continenza, Extension Educator, Food, Families and Health, Penn State Extension; Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist, CTS, and Chad Stefanyak, School Counselor. Have a question? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Family Project is a collaboration of LV Press Focus section and Valley Youth House Project Child.