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Harvard Health Blog
“Me time” sounds good, but when exactly?
- By: Steve Calechman, Guest Contributor
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This topic was so interesting, well written, and so I think I have something to contribute in addition to your great ideas.
First of all the best reading tip for parents in the USA – The Nordic Theory of Love by Anu Partanen. If you read it in small installments, you will know to how small extent you have an individual problem with this – it will take a lot of stress off, and you’ll see your everyday life as the struggle for survival that it is.
Here are a few tips about a principle to get ‘me time’ even with children. Children need both support and independence, they need safe ‘me-time’ on their level, too. So always start with support and then give space for independence.
Examples: If you have got something that the children can safely build with, lego or wooden blocks, you start together, get the children going, then sneak out, when they are happy and focussed, by saying, “I’ll just take a look in the kitchen or bedroom, you know where to find me, but I’ll be back soon” – and there you relax, the first times you relax for 3 minutes for 3-year-olds and 6 min for 6-year-olds. If your children are anxious, hum a tune or tap or something that sounds a little. Go back as you promised, but don’t mention any minutes to them, the minutes-counting is for you, but it doesn’t mean anything important to young children.
Did you enjoy some book, film or program when you were a kid? Take such an age-appropriate progam on DVD, make yourself cosy with the kids on the sofa or floor, and start watching, then sneak away when they are interested enough, tell them were you will be and that you’ll soon be back, and then do as above again. Afterwards you have the opportunity for very interesting talks about what they have seen and noticed. (Choose rather fun DVDs than scary, of course…)
Always use this procedure – first you help the children get going, then you support their independence by yourself doing something (a yoga-posture?, a cup of tea? three lines in your thanks-book?) simultaneously as they play, and then you reward them by taking an sincere interest in what they did.
Children need this training, so don’t feel guilty about it. A good mood about it signals them that everything is all right – they need that signal from you, the parent, don’t ask them if it was OK, signal them that you all of you did great. They will be proud to show that “I have done this myself!” or “I saw that …! ” and happy to talk to you about what they have experienced. This is developing skills and self-confidence on so many levels, as well as trust in you, that in very short time, a few weeks, you’ll get great progress, and minute by minute you can stretch the sneaking away to relax time up to 10 and 15 min long breaks.
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