I recently heard a great story about a mother and daughter who met up when the daughter was about 22 and they were reminiscing about childhood days. The daughter mentioned the 'dinner of little things' as being a real highlight of her childhood. The mother had no idea what the daughter was talking about. On further explanation the daughter described the evenings when her mum would allow her and her sister to watch TV while eating a plate of small things - sausage rolls, sandwiches, crisps, bread sticks, carrot sticks, etc... The mother thought for a while and then started laughing. "That's when I couldn't be arsed to cook and wanted you and your sister out of my hair for a couple of hours".
The daughter at the time had not idea how important this time out was for her mother in allowing her to be the best mother she could be and on the other hand the mother had no idea she that there was no need to feel guilty about the 'dinner of little things'.
After I had heard this story I started looking at my own expectations around being a mother. Are there more opportunities than I think for guilt free time out? Here's a couple of examples I found as food for thought (I couldn't resist the pun - sorry!);
Dinners at the table - I'm a bit militant about family dinner time and see it as an increasingly vital way to re-connect with my eldest teenager on a daily basis. This does involve cooking each and every night and eating at the table. What I've now decided is that it is OK to occasionally have a 'dinner of little things' in order to take some time for myself. My kids love it (even my eldest) and at bedtime I'm a much nicer parent.
Household chores - I like a clean and tidy house as it helps me cope with having allot going on in my life and is a direct reaction to my own childhood upbringing which involved allot of chaos. While it is important for my mental health to have order it does not mean that I need to have perfection. At the same time I've realized that I don't need to do it all. I now have a chores chart and everyone in the family plays their part - the kids fill and empty the dishwasher, load and unload the washing machine, sweep and mop the floors and do some basic dusting. Instead of spending my weekends creating a perfect house I now allow myself to have a new standard - a tidy house which all the family has contributed towards.
Yesterday I had a 'dinner of little things' revelation when I walked in on my son and daughter arguing in the living room. When I eventually found out the source of the argument I was super surprised - they were arguing about who gives mummy more 'space'. I didn't really understand at first what they were talking about but eventually I got it. As I've been on a personal development journey over the past 12 months I've started using new language and behaving differently. One of the things I now talk openly about to my children is my need for 'space' to allow me time to be a better person. The children I've realized have now begun to value my 'space' as a way of showing love towards me and I really can't thank them enough. We then proceed to have a great conversation about how when they are older they are going to make sure they have a family that also gives them the space to be happy. Now all they need them to do is to start seeing the washing up as the key to my happiness........
All opinions are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.