You Have To Come First

As a parent, I believe that you need to come first in order to be the best parent you can be for your children.  Not your job, not your wife, and not your children. Too often, I observe parents not making themselves a priority, and this is one of the main things that I think parents can improve on.  Parents spend a lot of time and energy on work, community service, marriage, and family. If they have any time and energy left (which is usually is little to none), they spend time doing the things that replenish themselves. I recommend a different approach.

I suggest that parents identify the activities that bring about their own happiness. Even fifteen minutes of doing something that I truly enjoy can re-energize me for an entire day.

What re-energizes you? Here are a few suggestions:
 Work out
 Read
 Get a message
 Play golf
 Have a night out
 Go on a date with your partner
 Spiritual practice (i.e. prayer, meditation)
 Eat healthy

Regardless of what you do, the intention is to find ways to make yourself feel better and more energized.  Many people consider these selfish acts, but there is a world of difference between self care and self indulgence.  When you are practice self care, you almost always feel better after the activity than before.  With self indulgence, you usually feel worse afterward.

Using the analogy of a car’s fuel tank, parents are often near or at empty and still trying to move forward.  Just like a car, you can only go so far on a single tank of gas.  Eventually you will break down without filling up.  When you keep yourself and your tank full, you have so much more to give, especially to your children.  Feeling energized often brings about a natural response of contributing to others.  Not only will you enjoy giving and contributing to your children; they will be more receptive of it.  The key is to know when you are full, half full and approaching empty.  I promise that if you practice this act of “filling yourself up”, not only will you be happier; the other people in your life will greatly appreciate it.

Michael L. Stoller