Sunday, April 7, 2013

Staying Balanced/Happy/Relaxed as Parents

Question: What did you do on a regular basis that kept you balanced/happy/relaxed while raising kids?


Date nights and short getaways
Temple visits
Yard work
Family council to help with planning/organization
Parenting books to help get realistic expectations
Activities like the symphony, book club, etc.
Not enrolling the kids in too many things at once
Mom not working unless absolutely necessary


Daniel and Barbara
Sometimes NONE of the adjectives of "balanced, happy, relaxed" were achieved.  Other times participation in book club and musical events made for happy, satisfying times for me.  For my husband, fishing or an occasional campout with our boys would help alleviate the stress of busy, challenging times.  His attitude of "Do your best and don't worry about the rest," helped bring sense to our lives.

Kenneth and Catherine
We enjoyed going to plays and to the symphony on a regular basis but the most important thing we have done is go to the temple at least monthly.  That is the key to maintaining a balanced/happy/relaxed relationship while raising our children.  We also held family council each Sunday  evening where we reviewed the next weeks schedule with each family member and felt like we all had our acts together.

Mary and Robert
Are you kidding???  We haven't been balanced, relaxed or sane since our first child turned 2.  In all seriousness though, we have mostly just been each other's friend.  We have date night without fail every week.  We also plan a "mini-moon" every so often.  We play a lot.  We have always looked for another couple to enjoy some of our activities. We like to go to movies, play games, attend plays and concerts.  Time away together has been and to a great degree still is our best advice for any young couple. 

Abigail (and Martin)
When the  kids were young, we had family movie night  My husband would make the kids guess what movie he had hidden behind his back.  We would have root beer, pizza and popcorn right in front of the TV.  After the show was over, we let the credits scroll by as our youngest did crazy dances to the music.

When the kids were older, they were busy so we didn't always have family dinner on week nights.  However, Sunday was a special day that we did eat together almost every week.  It has always been a special meal with food not typically served during the week.

Jane (and Samuel)
I don't know if we did anything on a regular basis to keep us relaxed....Well we did have date nights...not every week but once or twice a month.  We went to the temple once a month.  I often had a gym membership and went 2 or 3 times a week or walked at least.  My husband has always worked in the yard, digging, planting, moving and building stuff. "Holes don't talk back." I have had periods of time when I did yoga pretty regularly when I didn't go to a gym.  We have tried to take one or two night get away trips once or twice a year.  During a really hard time right after our son got out of the hospital after a 5 month stay I skiied with the "Newcomers Club" once a week.  a lesson in the morning and free skiing alone in the afternoon.  Not worrying about anyone or herding anyone or being hurried or herded by anyone. That was a winter with a bad inversion but once a week I was above it all and the sun was shining and the sky was blue.

I also read a lot of parenting books that reminded me what was developmentally appropriate so I didn't expect my kids to be perfect or all grown up before it was possible...although perhaps sometimes I thought they were more ready than they when we let our 15 year old daughters go on European tours with high school groups or student exchanges.  Now that I am older and have been a social worker for a lot of years I think I might have been a bit naive sometimes.  We were blessed that our kids made it through the freedom we tried to give them.  They didn't have to break away from us because we let them go and fortunately they all came back and seem to still love and respect us.

Cynthia (and Brad)
I am not sure that we did have a regular answer to keeping balanced, happy, relaxed. We just had to try to keep focused on the end result, rather than day to day solutions. Mainly it was a philosopy. We did not enroll our children in multiple activities. There were usually two kinds for each child: church activities--YMYW, scouting, seminary, church dances, stake youth conference, girls camp. Those were not options, but our kids always loved these, so there was no problem. Our girls even loved girls camp, the kind where you slept in tents, no electricity, no running water,  and cooking over a campfire. None of the pampered stuff that the girls have now.Then they usually had one other, such as a school activity: school newspaper, choir, dance group, etc. No one seemed interested in sports, probably because we didn't emphasize it because we did not want a family commitment to all the time and effort.

But our life was very busy, due to my husband's career and our church callings and the callings our children had. Here is what we are very thankful for: my husband and I, through great sacrifice, made our way through medical school , internship, and residency, plus a mandatory stint in the army, so when the children came along, I was a stay at home mom. I know times have changed now, but I cannot emphasize enough how important that was to the success of our children in their growing up years. THEY NEED THEIR MOM TO BE HOME WITH THEM AND TO BE THERE WHEN THEY GET HOME FROM SCHOOL, not a frazzled, worn out one. But sometimes there is no choice. But a very nice house, car, clothes, etc. are not necessities. Those can come later. Nothing can substitute for a mom at home. I had to teach school for the first six months of my first child's life-it couldn't be helped. But I wish it could have been another way, because I missed a lot and she probably did too. Then I did work in an office when our fourth child was a junior in high school to help pay college and mission bills. But she got along fine and no harm done. But when the kids are little--I say no way if it can be helped.

Next week's question: How did you gauge what discipline was age-appropriate for your young preschool age children, and how did you discipline without damaging your relationship or your child's feeling of being valued?

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