Thinking Yogi

The intersection of two loves: yoga and writing.

Say goodbye to "me" time

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Parenting spoiler alert - having kids is not all pony rides and lollipops.

I was talking with a friend on the playground the other day about the challenges of staying patient despite the everyday irritations of life with small and inherently less-rational people. On those 40-degree mornings where my kids refuse to wear jackets because they claim that extra clothing slows them down when they play tag on the playground, I remind myself that part of my frustration comes from the unrealistic expectations I have for my kids. For some reason, despite years of proof otherwise, I expect that they will take the logical path over whatever impractical, fun idea is stuck in their heads. And as they shiver yet refuse to budge in the coat department, I feel the tantrum boiling up in me, and before I can stop myself I say (to my two kids under the age of 6), "Why can't you act like normal adults?"

Parenting is trying. Children are wonderful, sweet, loving, and hilarious, but parenting them is a lot of work. Knowing that, I was surprised to find that one of my happiest parenting experiences occurred the week my husband was out of town for work and I was in charge of the little monkeys for 5 straight days (with some help from my wonderful sitter). I fully embraced the fact that I was the one who had to get snacks and drinks and break up arguments over Hot Wheels. I let small things go, knowing that I couldn't possibly fight every fight, knowing that it didn't matter if they behaved "perfectly." I had more fun with them than I'd had in months. Instead of policing their kid-ness, I tried to find more ways to be silly with them in order to entertain myself so being "on" full-time wasn't so much a job as a chance to spend time connecting with two very special little human beings. I realized that if I let my adult self go for a little bit, I could find the humor and playfulness in many of the same ridiculous games that would have normally driven me crazy.

Then my husband came back and I had a little more time to myself and I found myself getting crabby again. Now, don’t get me wrong. I'm a big believer in taking time for myself; I know it makes me happier and healthier and better prepared as a parent to nurture my children. But I also now know that the shift between sane, adult "me" time and crazy, sleeve-tugging child-time can be enough to make any adult throw a tantrum. I come home to incessant fights over who gets to use the tape dispenser first? This isn't fair! Don't these children know I just had an amazing massage? They're going to undo 60 minutes of relaxation in 60 seconds.

I'm practicing better managing the transitions between times when I've been away as an adult, in a sane and rational world, and then I come home to toys strewn about and children who need something every five minutes. I'm practicing detaching from that part of my life instead of clinging to it, instead of wishing that I could send just one more email or read just one more page of the book I was enjoying before I came home. If I am honest with myself and recognize that "me" time is over as soon as I walk through the front door, I can fully give myself to the present and really be with my kids wherever they are - silly, whining, or somewhere in between. Sometimes just the thought of having to do it makes me want to throw a full fledged tantrum, kicking and screaming on the floor, but then I tell myself to use my words and we all make it through just fine.

Tagged in: motherhood transitions

Kerry is the Founder & Director of Bloom Yoga Studio, voted Best Yoga Studio in the Chicago Reader, Chicago Magazine, and Citysearch. As a practicing yogi, writer, and mother of three, Kerry is all about making the principles and philosophies of yoga real and accessible for day-to-day living. You can find Kerry on Google+.