In the classic movie, “The Parent Trap,” parents who have been divorced for years made the mind-numbingly dumb idea to split their twin daughters: keep them apart and to not tell them about each other. Then years later, the twin girls meet each other at camp, become fierce enemies and then when forced to live together, best friends. They figure out they look exactly alike and that they must be…twin sisters! They get together and force their parents together and…voila through their machinations, they get their parents back together…for good!
The kids got their way come hell or high water. Luckily, in the movie, the parents secretly wanted what their kids wanted.
However, if you are a parent, you know that is often not the case. Your kids’ wants will prove to grow as large as the space in which they can fill…often at odds with the entire family’s wellbeing and certainly at odds with your own. You want to give your children the world and possibly to have opportunities that you did not have access to. And what often happens is that your own wellbeing is pushed completely off the to do list.
You want them to be on that traveling soccer/basketball/baseball team. You want to be the parent who volunteers at their schools. You want them to be in a youth orchestra or choir that travels nationally to perform. It is a combination of wanting them to reach towards their dreams, to get into a good college or to simply raise accomplished kids.
You might think that school and extra-curricular activities are your kids’ jobs and no need for them to help around the house.
You spend so much time taking them to their activities that family time suffers. There is no time left for unstructured family fun or connection such as going for a family bike ride or a hike. You are running around constantly attending to your child’s dreams. But are they really? Whose dreams are they?
And what messages are your kids getting when you are not taking care of yourself? Your kids are watching everything you do. You are modeling busyness, not connection with them. You are giving them the message that they come before everything—even the family’s and your own wellbeing. And you are letting them know that they don’t have to contribute to the family, because the family revolves around them.
Many busy professionals figure that this is life with kids and a demanding job and they just need to get through it. Believe me, putting your own wellbeing aside for 18 or more years is not the way life has to be. What if you could decide to do things differently? What would that look like for you and your family?
Sharon Burris-Brown is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and a Licensed Social Worker. She has helped hundreds of professionals with families release their stress and carve out time with their families even with demanding careers.
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