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The best parenting advice I ever got had nothing to do with my children. It had nothing to do with naptime or how to get a toddler to try brussels sprouts. It wasn’t even about my kids.
It was about my marriage.
A good friend told me: No matter how busy your day is, make sure you sit down with your husband for 15 minutes a day and talk. Really talk. And don’t just talk about the kids—talk about yourselves and really connect. No phones, no TV in the background, no iPads. If you have to take a walk around the block to do it, do just that. But make sure you set aside 15 minutes a day for each other.
Six years and two kids later, that advice has served me well. It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of life. The bickering over dishes and straightening up the family room can take a toll. It can take over and become the entire dynamic of your relationship. The 15 minutes a day guarantees that you take time each day to connect. You’re not just mommy and daddy. You’re the people you were when you first met.
It’s so easy to get caught up in mommyland. That never-ending cycle of birthday parties, kids' meals, laundry, cleaning up the toys, cleaning up the kitchen, cleaning up the house, groceries, doctor’s appointments. Add work into the mix, and some days there’s barely time to take a shower, much less make time for yourself.
My kids will continue to be the most important thing in my life, as well as my husband and my marriage, but I’m also going to make an effort to nurture all of the other relationships in my life.
But what I’ve come to realize is that nourishing all of those other relationships — with friends, co-workers, other mommies and family members — is what makes a life. Without them, I felt lonely and disconnected. I was catering to the needs of my kids, but not my own. And if you’re not OK, your kids won’t be OK.
My therapist always asks me, “And what are you doing for you?” I laugh. What mom has time for herself? Most days I feel lucky if I have time to wash my hair. But she’s right. It’s important to have something for yourself.
So, in this new year, I resolve to make time for all of the relationships in my life. My kids will continue to be the most important thing in my life, as well as my husband and my marriage. But I’m also going to make an effort to nurture all of the other relationships in my life. I know that it will make me a happier person to have a well-rounded life.
Being happy is the best way I know how to be a great mom and wife.