A full cup allows HomeMoms to serve their families well

February 3, 2010

 
This past week I was reading our local newspaper, and I was pleasantly surprised to read an article that supports HomeMom’s Heart’s mission. 
The article was written by Minalee Saks,co- founder and Executive Director of Eugene, Oregon’s nationally recognized nonprofit organization Birth To Three.  Birth to Three provides parenting education and support to families with young children.
 
I was thrilled to read her article because it adds credibility to HomeMom’s Heart’s purpose and existence (if someone does not think HomeMoms are deserving of benefits). 
 
If I were to write Minalee’s  article, some nay-sayers would state “of course you believe…, after all, you are a HomeMom and you are the President of HomeMom’s Heart.”  
 
It’s like being a parent.  An example is when I  tell my kids the importance of arriving to school on time, and not being late.   My kids think that their Mom is majoring in the minors about something that isn’t relevant or important.  Yet if the Principal of the school says the same thing, or a respected teacher or friend’s parent says the same to them, then they excitedly tell me “Mom,  my Principal said…”   
Now I hear “Mom, lets make sure we get to school early everyday.  We can never be late.  Did you know that going to school is like having a job, and that if you are late to your job you can be disciplined and maybe even fired?”
 
Read the newspaper article “Being a good parent requires you to nurture yourself, too” below, or click here to read the article.
 
 Birth To Three

Being a good parent requires you to nurture yourself, too

Appeared in print: Sunday, Jan 24, 2010


  Valentine’s Day is coming, a time when we think about our love and caring for others. For parents, the way we show our love for our child can be directly connected to how we take care of ourselves. 

 As an anonymous quote says, “Before others can drink from my cup, it must be filled.” Parents often think that taking care of themselves is selfish. After all, as parents we have a lot of demands on our days.

Milk spills, the kids whine, the toilet clogs, the bills pile up and there is always more to do at the job. Even if we started the day in a good mood and full of energy, our cup can be drained by the end of the day.

Every day we are bombarded by images of the stress-free, perfect families we see in the media. The mother is on time for work, her house looks great and so does she. Dad works, too. He also does the dishes and helps the children with their homework. The children eat all the healthy food put in front of them and always put away their toys. And when things get too tough, the family simply takes that fabulous getaway vacation.

For a family living in the real world, it can be difficult to align these images with day-to-day life. Dads or moms may be raising their children on their own. They could be struggling with bills, health problems or holding onto their jobs.

Whether we are dealing with huge problems or everyday hassles, we parents need to keep our cups full. We can’t easily solve long-term serious problems. However, there are small things we can do that help. They don’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time.

For example, one of my friends feels pampered and elegant if she eats with a chilled fork. Another friend said that she always feels good when she makes time to take a walk with her friend. A dad told me he gets recharged if he can sit on the sofa and read a magazine after the kids are in bed or when he makes time to shoot a few hoops.

In our Birth To Three groups, we sometimes give parents a card to help them commit to doing something nurturing for themselves. It’s a simple, fill-in-the-blank statement: “I, (name), will (enjoyable activity) as a nurturing activity for myself.” Thus, it could say, “I, Lisa, will make time to call my sister as a nurturing activity for myself.”

The point is not what we do; it’s finding healthy things that help to fill our cups.

It also helps when we have a network of friends and family to support us. Traditionally, parents have raised children with the help of “extended family systems.” Now, however, most of us don’t have nearby grandmas and grandpas, sisters and cousins to give us perspective on parenting or a break when we need it.

Unfortunately, our society makes an assumption that becoming a parent means we can do it all by ourselves. At Birth To Three, we encourage parents to give each other the kind of support they need.

By helping each other, getting together outside of their groups and developing friendships, they are making the connections that help them as parents to fill their cups.

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding and challenging things we will ever do. We can be most effective in this role and enjoy it much more when we have realistic expectations of ourselves and our children, when we fill our cups and when we allow ourselves to give and receive support from others.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Minalee Saks, co-founder and executive director of Birth To Three, is an author of numerous parenting curricula. Birth To Three is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening families through parent support and education. For more information about Birth To Three, visit www.birthto3 .org or call 541-484-5316. 

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