It really is hard work being a parent. Once we factor in things like health, raising children the right way, education, nutrition, clubs, sports and other activities - not to mention a balanced family life - it can become exhausting to even think about it all.
And we don't just want to get it all done, we want to get it done well! We want to be the best ever PTA president, the most creative den leader the scouts ever saw, the dad who cooks the most delicious family meals, the mom who makes those homework sessions both learning and fun.
In fact, we sacrifice just about everything for those children, don't we? We put our own lives on hold; give up things we used to enjoy; agree to put them first in every area of our lives. We are proud of the self-denial and the personal cost, because it proves just how much we love them....
Well, I'm sorry, but I have a problem with a lot of that! Because sometimes the best gift we can give our children is a healthy, well-balanced Mom and Dad who don't seem beat-up, burned-out, used-up and patched-together all the time. Whole people with rounded lives actually make better parents, and if we don't take the time to take care of ourselves then what have we got left to give our children when they need us?
We could all use some regular renewal in every area of our lives.
1. Physical: this affects everything from our mental sharpness to how we feel - and even our ability to enjoy satisfying relationships. Exercise is key here.
2. Mental: more on this in an upcoming column, but positive mental stimulation and taking care of our brains is sadly neglected by too many Americans. One word - Read.
3. Social: Nurturing and stimulating friendships are vital, and too many parents deny themselves this blessing because "we simply don't have the time." Make the time.
4. Spiritual: God created us for relationship with Him and with each other. Just do it. 'Nuff said.
Simply put, well balanced parents take care of themselves. If we don't care for ourselves, then we will be compromising our children - more than we realize. "Seek first God's kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)
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