How to Create Time Together when Your Children are Young and You Have No Extended Family Support
By Paula-Elizabeth Jordan
I was inspired to write this article by a documentary that I watched several years ago now about “apparently problematic children”. I will explain further in just a moment. First I would just like to say why I feel “together time” is sooo important!
As parents you are the “Team Leaders” of your “Family Team”. You put yourselves in the best position to handle all the ups, downs and needs that parenting requires if your needs on the whole are met and you feel fulfilled. I cannot express enough how important this is. Now I can hear the workaholics amongst you already protesting: “Yes, but there’s just sooo much to do at work and at home; how do you possibly expect us to take more time out”!! I’m sorry to have to say this, but – “time-management”!! It is possible to fit work and home responsibilities in and still create time together. I will tell you how and you will be amazed at how much more efficient you are at everything – I promise!! 🙂
First let me expand a bit more on why it is so important to have “Together time”. In today’s modern and busy World with so many things around to distract us from everyday life, to keep your relationship healthy and maintain a “Family Team Focus”; it is necessary to take time out to spend together. Date each other still – a date with each other that will remind you of how things were when there was less responsibility is very healthy, because it means that you’re still creating time for some more light-hearted interaction between the two of you that will help to ease any tension you may be feeling. So make sure you dress up and talk about light-hearted fun things; avoid talking about all your everyday stresses as far as possible. Another thing that a “Team-Leader’s date” could be good for is maintaining a “Family Team Focus”. What I mean by this is you can talk goals and plans for the whole family – like planning a holiday for instance. It’s always good to have “goals” for the whole “Family Team” as it maintains close family bonds and will mean that your children are less likely to “stray” of the rails. After an evening of positive, relaxed conversation you’ll both return home feeling happier and calmer. This puts you in a far better position to deal with those everyday stresses more efficiently. Plus it will enable you to work together more effectively as the “Leaders” of your “Family Team”.
I also feel that this is an article very much for the benefit of single parents too. I know that parents who have a partner still struggle, so for single parents this must be very much amplified. This brings me nicely to say a little bit more about the documentary that inspired me; as it was a single Mum on this documentary whose situation I particularly empathised with. She was really feeling the struggle with a full-time job and an active four year-old son. I could see so clearly that the real “issue” wasn’t any problematic behaviour of her son. Rather, the reason for that behaviour. She was so emotionally drained that she just didn’t have the resources inside herself to deal with what she found a challenge. Trust me, I know this boy would have been an angel for me; why, because aside having the experience to deal better with his behaviour, what’s more important is that I have enough emotional wellness to cope. She was called Paula too, perhaps another reason I particularly empathised with her.
As a single parent it was almost more important for “Paula” to have some time for herself because 100% of her time was either taken up with work, or child-care. This is not healthy and it was clear to see on the documentary that she was struggling as a result. Experts recommend that we should have at least a little bit of time for ourselves every day; poor Paula wasn’t getting it even once a month. “Space” for ourselves to relax and unwind is a really important part of well-being. If you don’t get enough time to unwind, it means that you’re permanently wound-up! – Now that’s worth considering! 🙂
Hence, it had me thinking that I wanted to do something about this type of situation and really help “Family Teams” of single parents, or both parents who don’t have any extended family nearby to help out.
Working with families in the different contexts that I have been privileged to; I would definitely say that one of the answers is to get out of your “comfort bubble” and while you are on maternity leave, take them out to different groups – not so much that they don’t experience any time at home, because that’s important too – just enough to meet/ get to know other parents and make more friends. This way you can talk to them and ask what they do. Do they know any great babysitters that they use/ have used?? It’s always helpful to talk to other people in your position and see what their solutions are, especially if you’re a single parent. – I know parents who have built up a really wide babysitting circle they can call upon just by being more social – and they both work a lot!
Another solution is, if you are a working parent and you employ a nanny – do ask during an interview whether she’d be willing to do a certain amount of babysitting. Please don’t let it put you off if she say “no” and you like her; because a lot of nanny agencies also provide babysitters for families and they’re pretty good at doing it last minute too! – So look for agencies that will actively provide babysitters in addition to nannies. These types of agencies actively “vet” every candidate, so you know that you’re being sent someone with experience (you can ask for a more experience person) who’s been met and interviewed by the agency. If you use the same person a few times, you can get to know them and you’ll obviously feel more comfortable.
For the Entrepreneurs amongst you; why no take this as a challenge to create a business? “Find a trustworthy babysitter,com” sounds like it would be a very useful, sort after site to me! 🙂
I feel now is an appropriate time to tell you about how it’s possible to use time so effectively you can fit everything and more in that you never thought was possible. Remember, once you’ve achieved what for you is “impossible”, everything else becomes possible. So are you ready for the challenge?!
It is completely possible to be able to fit in everything you need to do for work/ home and more. How do I know this? – Because I’ve had to learn it!! The biggest secret is first to “compartmentalise” in your mind exactly how you’re going to fit everything in. Second, ensure you “stick to the plan” and keep distractions such as the phone and iPad out of your way too!! – You’ll be amazed at how much time you actually spend doing unnecessary things! 🙂
If this is something you feel that you would struggle to do yourself; it is definitely worth investing in a Mentor. The most highly successful people in the World have, or have had a Mentor. The best Mentor I know who can teach you time-management like it’s a “super- power” (no joke!) is my own Amazing Mentor, the Fantastic Dr Jane Cox. 🙂
If you have a budget and feel that you would struggle to spend money on something costly for yourself; focus on the benefit that your children will receive from the extra time available that you can create to have with them, as well as your partner. Also, with the extra time that you have for your partner, your children will also benefit from that because they’ll get to spend time with a calmer, happier you. Only today I read this quote on Twitter again and it has so much truth about it; “To bring up happy, well rounded children spend twice as much time with them and half as much money”! It’s pretty much the same with partners; spending twice as much time together actively nurturing your relationship send a clear subconscious message that this is important and needs to be prioritised. This works on a deeper level to really bring you close together and help ensure a lasting and happy relationship.
If you’re single, the happier space you’ll be in at having more time for yourself will help enable you to cope with those everyday stresses far more manageably. Plus, if you want to, it will help you attract the type of partner who would be more desirable to settle down with. This is because you’ll be in a space of wanting, Not needing a relationship! 🙂
For more information please email me at: [email protected] or message me on Twitter/ Instagram, @FamilyTeamCoach, or through Facebook/ LinkedIn at Paula-Elizabeth Jordan, thank-you.
Paula-Elizabeth Jordan is a Montessori trained Child-Development Expert who’s passionate about helping “Family Teams” work together for the benefit of each other, as this is how successful, well-balanced, happy children are raised. She has been Montessori trained for over ten years now and also has a degree in Theology with an Art minor. She is presently writing her own book entitled; “How to Bring up A Successful Human-Being”. www.paulaelizabeth.com