Parenthood. Nothing could be more rewarding and nothing could be more tiring. Every child is different and they don’t come with an instructional manual. Some days having three kids all ages four and under makes me want to scream, cry, laugh, and well go insane. These little miracles that my wife and I had prayed for can wear the snot out of you. Sometimes there is a feeling of guilt when you don’t know whether you are dead or alive and you think what was I thinking?! I’m here to say it’s normal and ignore the parents that look like they’re not exhausted because they are.They are little miracles and I love being a dad! I also say it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. Parents almost feel guilt to say that it is a hard adjustment. Well, it is hard and fun. These 4 things help to keep me sane.
1. Date night. Rachel and I need reminders that we are a couple first and parents second. Find someone you trust with your kids even for thirty minutes if leaving them is hard for you. Dream with your spouse again. Look into his or her eyes without the little angels fighting you for attention. As I write this I’m thinking we need to put a date night on the calendar!
2. Clean the house. We make sure all of the toys are cleaned up and the dishes done before we sit down after the kids go to sleep. I cannot fully relax as much as I can when the whole house is clean. I can feel the undone hovering over me like a cloud. Putting it off is just trying to avoid the pain in the rear of cleaning when I’m tired. I always feel better when tomorrow starts with a clean slate, so we push through.
3. Find a point to be alone. I rise early to be alone. Just like date nights help to reconnect as a couple, having time alone will remind you that you are an individual. This may sound like common sense but it’s not. You are God’s son or daughter first. Not a dad or a mom, but an individual. When I make the time to be alone, I find that I have more patience and energy to be a better dad. I need to be reminded of this so I wake up early to be alone with God.
4. This too shall pass. Sometimes I need to be reminded of this when my three year old doesn’t listen for a week or one of the kids is waking up a lot because they are teething. This too shall pass and it will get easier. When we are really exhausted we say this often to each other. This is a snapshot, not the whole story. It is one really tiring phase, not a lifetime.
In the end, parenting is awesome! Remember to be proactive and intentional and your energy will be much higher to enjoy the ride. They will only be this age once. It is a good reminder to enjoy this stage and also remember that this stage will be over. Enjoy your kids, but have wisdom and schedule time for your spouse as well as yourself.