Before I begin, I should explain that I am not a parenting expert - I am a parent. I have two small kids and I’m “home” with them almost every day. I am, however, a ’space’ expert. Space is very important to me, I don’t think I could function as a parent without it. Making space for ourselves is something my partner, Andrew, and I do consciously and deliberately. He has a high-pressure job and lives with a neurotic woman and two kids, our space is sacred!
It hasn’t always been that way, for a long time we jumped from crisis to crisis like a polar bear looking for solid ground. But two kids, one case of postpartum depression, the usual ups-and-downs of life, and lots of therapy will change a person.
Making space is how I shake the cobwebs and connect with other parts of myself. Space frees me to let go of the overwhelm that comes from being wholly responsible for the day-to-day health and wellness of my family. Space helps me regain perspective. Space helps me sort through all the parenting advice I’ve acquired and figure out what to apply. Space and the promise of space gives me the energy to push through another challenging or dull or overwhelming day.
So how do I carve out space just for me?
Good, consistent communication. I am blessed with a husband who is committed to the idea of co-parenting and who is far more relaxed than yours truly. It also helps that I have an awesome pair of brilliant kids whom I adore. Recently, we came back to regular family meetings - weekly sessions where we sit together and discuss the week. We forecast important upcoming events, deal with issues around the house and just see what the week ahead looks like.
Family and couple’s meetings are our key to securing large and small chunks of free time and family time. Author, psychotherapist and parenting expert Alyson Schafer (http://www.alyson.ca), explains family meetings in-depth in both of her books: Honey, I Wrecked the Kids (2008) and Breaking the Good Mom Myth (2006). Following Schafer’s direction, our meetings occur weekly; are only as long as necessary; have a predictable progression; and are voluntary and democratic.