Craftily Parenting

Welcome to the January 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener and gentler. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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I’m good at taking care of people. The sick, the hungry, the young, the old, those with special needs – bring them on.  I’ve spent years honing my relationship and communication skills.  I am good at taking care of people.  Other people, that is.  Myself, well, that can be another story.

My laundry is always sitting in a basket while the kids have neatly organized closets and a baby naps in my bed.  I eat my waffles cold while the kids have theirs cut in just the right size bites with their choice of dipping sauce, on or beside, and could I just get a wipe for their hands before I sit down.  And of course, the baby is yelling for more bites in his mouth and less in mine.  I can put myself last on my list while everyone else accomplishes their to-dos.  I can take on babysitting for a friend while I try my best to figure out how to get my house cleaned for an event.

While packing for our holiday trip this week, late in the afternoon before we were supposed to be leaving, the baby peed on my jeans.  My only jeans.  They had to be washed and dried before we could leave, while I wore my jammie pants around the house.   Then, when we had a near miss with the jammie pants, I realized that I was one accident away from having nothing left to wear or pack for our trip.  Perhaps I did need a second pair of jeans and pajamas after all.

So, yes, taking care of myself can be hard for me.

And then I got this call for the Carnival of Natural Parenting, and this month’s assignment is to run an experiment in natural living or natural parenting – do something you don’t normally do to be more environmentally friendly or a more natural parent, for at least a week.  And you know, that is a tall order for our family.  There was a whole list of possibilities to get people thinking – and my husband and I laughed about the list because there wasn’t much on there that we felt we could do that we weren’t already doing.  So, what would our experiment be?
Fast forward a few days to me in my rocking chair, crying to my husband.  I’ve got a teething baby who won’t detach from me for more than a few moments at a time.  I’ve got a husband who is completely overwhelmed by a class and working at it every spare waking moment.  I’ve got two children who are awaiting the magic of Christmas and all of the things that go with it.  And I’m drowning in the stress of taking care of my home, my children, my husband, my baby, and – oh yeah, myself!  In crying and talking about how much I was struggling, the words came out of my mouth, “I just want to sit down and work on my Christmas gifts, and relax for a few minutes and it seems like every little thing that comes up is something that I have to deal with before I can do what I really want to do!”  And it sank in.  I have not only given up my night out of the house for a baby who can’t handle either me being away from him or him being away from home at that time of night.  I had given up my one daily reprieve of knitting, crafting, and creativity.  I had given up my ONE LAST THING that I do because I enjoy it.  I was putting myself last on my list AGAIN.  Because it is obviously more important to have my house sparkling and the lunch dishes off the table than it is for me to get the Christmas gifts made – because I ENJOY the making of the Christmas gifts.  Or, is it?

And suddenly, my experiment revealed itself to me in a brilliant flash.  For at least a week, and hopefully longer than that, I would make getting in an hour of crafting a PRIORITY every day.  I would do it because taking the time to do something I enjoy makes me a better mom.  It makes me a better wife.  It makes me a better person. 

So, I began my experiment and it was such a huge success!  In the midst of my Christmas stress, the best days were those in which I got the most crafting done.  I was less stressed about getting the rest of my list done.  I was less stressed about getting my daily chores done.  I was less stressed about planning and packing for the impending trip.  I was less bothered by whatever craziness the kids were creating.  I was so much calmer and happier over all that I was better able to deal with all of the other inconveniences that arose on a daily basis.

We will definitely be keeping an hour of creativity in my day, from now on.  So if you peek in my window and see a table full of dishes, toys all over the floor, a baby playing on a blanket on the floor, and me happily knitting away in my chair – it is because I’m taking care of the most important item on my to do list first – and being a better parent.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

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10 thoughts on “Craftily Parenting

  1. Yes! This is something I think a lot of parents struggle with: the balance between giving to others and giving to ourselves. I’m working on this same thing in my life right now, too. Taking time for self-care is so vital to me being able to have patience and stamina. Kudos to you for taking that time for yourself!

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  2. Thank you for the reminder! It is really hard to find the balance, especially if you’re a first time mama like me. I think I had the same conversation with my husband, who was super supportive. The next day, I bought a deal online for a month’s worth of yoga classes at a studio within walking distance, and we decided that I’d go 2-3 times a week, just to get away and rejuvenate. I can’t wait, and I know I’ll be a much better mom for it!

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  3. Yea! I am so glad you get a daily hour for yourself, and that the carnival sparked that. You totally deserve it. I know I feel more “myself” and able to give to others when I have those moments of refreshing and being just me and not mom/wife.

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  4. Wonderful! I’m so glad you made the time to do something just for *you*…it ends up overflowing to everyone around us, so it’s worth it! I hope this continues for you 🙂

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  5. Great post and fantastic reminder. I am the worst for looking after myself – as my husband loves to remind me. But then I also find I need to look after myself in the ways that I NEED, not that HE wants me to, if that makes sense?I’m glad you’ve found your centre. It’s so important to be good at the rest of it all!

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  6. We have *got* to take care of ourselves so we can better take care of others, but it is SO easy to overlook. All those other needs glare us in the face and our own just get pushed down further and further on the list until we just can’t get to them.Good for you! I hope you keep it up for good!And I wonder what your husband has to say about the experiment. 🙂

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  7. (Sorry I’m just now getting around to reading the rest of my fellow CarNatPar entrants’ posts)I completely understand what you are saying here. This was actually something that I was talking about as my ‘New Year’ resolution – focusing a little more on me so I could be a better/more energetic person and family member. Girl, you doooo need to focus a bit on you and take care of yourself or you have nothing to give others, you know? I hope it goes well for you!!!xoxo, Mrs. Stone

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