For the first few years of my relationship with my partner and Monster, I (intentionally and willingly) made almost everything about them, they were pretty much the only people on my priority list. If I had plans and then we ended up having Monster.. it was an easy decision, my plans were cancelled.
This does coincide with the period in which our contact was “unorganised” and sometimes sporadic, for the most part it was actually very regular but it was never guaranteed and not preplanned very far in advance, so we were never quite sure when we would be seeing him. So, of course whenever we had the chance my partner and I would drop everything we could to ensure we made the most of our time. More than this, we actually didn’t commit to a lot of plans on the off-chance we would have Monster for the day.
In the past couple of years, I decided to practice what I preach and make myself a priority every now and then. I was fed up with hearing myself think “if I had the time…”, “I’d love to… but I just can’t commit”, “I wish I could…”. Ultimately, I had forgotten that only one person is in charge of my time and thats me! Unless I take care of myself and ensure my needs are fulfilled, I am useless to fulfilling anybody else’s .
Now, there is no hobby or past-time which could overtake my family on my list of priorities, so any long-term activities I do commit to are not on any of our regular scheduled time with Monster. But, I do commit to things outside that time, and I do still attend if it falls on a day we have him with us – I no longer feel guilty for doing it… because I am important too.
I also think its important for Monster to realise that we do have other things going on, that his Daddy and I have lives and friends when he’s not with us and that yes, we have fun without him too. As much as we grown-ups can, little ones can also become burdened with guilt that their family doesn’t function without them being there and that is not healthy for anyone. Part of our jobs as their grown ups is to ensure that they never feel this burden of looking after those whose job it is to look after them.
I still have a lot of work to do, prioritising and looking after myself but the more conscious and aware I am, hopefully the easier and more natural it will be. It’s so easy to blame everybody and everything else when you don’t spend time on the things you enjoy, but really you are the only person who can change that… everyone else will soon get used to it and even reap the benefits, whether it mores 1 on 1 time or just a happier person around the house – its a win-win!