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Life with a toddler is hectic. From the moment babies are born until about 5 years of age, they require a lot of our attention and are the most dependent they will ever be on the parent. From eating, drinking fluids, potty training, bedtime routines, changing clothes to countless other needs we have to engage on a daily basis, our days are simply non-stop.
So how do we keep it together? And more specifically, how do we make sure that our marriage doesn’t suffer, and for professional parents, how to keep our careers going?
As a mom, wife, and marriage & family therapist, I explore regularly in my life and with the families, I work with how to transition smoothly into parenthood. It is one of the biggest transitions in life, one that we receive the title of being a parent first, and all the lessons later, as our child grows.
So here are 7 tips to achieve balance in life with a toddler:
Make the commitment to dedicate time to your children, spouse, and work. This might sound silly at first, however, when we are not aware of where we are placing our energy and efforts, it is difficult to understand the results that we will encounter. Basically, by making the commitment to achieve balance in all areas of our life, then we can prioritize our time to reflect this. Otherwise, we may end up channeling all efforts in the area we feel most comfortable. For some of you, it’s more with the children, others with work, and some with their spouses. The truth is that if all efforts are in one bucket, the other areas will suffer.
Make time for self-care. As women, I think we struggle with the idea of taking care of ourselves. We experience a lot of guilt, specially after becoming moms. I know, I never experienced more guilt in my life after I had my daughter and went back to work. But I knew that my profession is an important part of my identity, plus it is a legacy I want to leave my daughter with: Follow your dreams, as I dreamt of having my practice where I could help people transform their lives and relationships. So my self-care includes following my dream of my career, and many moms may relate to this in different capacities. It may be through a profession, or a side job, or completing artwork, decorating the house, working on a garden... I also like to think of self-care as a holistic approach where we take care of our bodies and minds through a healthy diet, meditation, exercise, and good sleep. Some moms wake up before their toddler to work out, meditate and have a moment of quiet. Others incorporate workouts with their toddlers in "mommy and me" classes or using joggers, or simply running around with them at the park! Same thing with diet. I hear moms cooking in the morning or doing bulk cooking one day of the weekend.
Building a strong support system. I am sure that while you were reading the self-care tip you were wondering: “Who has time for that?” This is why it is very important to have a strong support system of family, friends, neighbors, nannies and teachers. The three people that help me the most are my neighbor and one of my daughter’s teachers, as well as my mother.
Don’t forget about your spouse! If you are in a committed relationship, having a strong relationship with your significant other can make things a lot easier. Did you know that 67% of couples report marital dissatisfaction in the first three years of their child’s life? That’s a two-thirds of couples! So, in order to have balance with a toddler, it is important to look at the health of the marriage as well. Moms and dads both alike are learning how to be parents and this can take some time away from thinking of the relationship. Research shows that children benefit from strong relationships between their parents, for their development and success in life. Plus, it is hard to feel balanced when there is either too much arguing or too little connection at home.
Create a schedule. Assign times to work, spend time with your children, take care of household needs, time with spouse and self-care. Having assigned time to work on things has the benefit that we can devote all of our attention to what we are doing because we know that the rest will be taken care of at another time. Sometimes we have to help ourselves by turning off phones and other devices, specially social media…. yes, social media is a time sucker! With a schedule, we know each area is taken care of.
Be realistic. This means, set goals and a schedule but also be flexible. Managing more than one hat is complicated, and when everything is going well, it goes great but kids get sick, things break at home and we need to wait for the repairman to show up, there are school activities, and so much more! So, following your schedule (tip 5) would make your week ideal, but keeping an open mind if something comes up is as important in order to be able to adjust as seamless as possible.
Be aware. Awareness is key to survive life with a toddler. What do I mean by this? Awareness is having the state of mind to regularly be checking in with yourself to know if something needs to be taken care of immediately… do you need time for self-care otherwise you might lose it? Do you need to spend time with your spouse because you haven't really had a good conversation other than about the kids in weeks or even months? How’s work doing?
Above all, awareness is the art of being compassionate with yourself. Through compassion, we can come up with solutions and alternatives. Compassion is sometimes the only thing we need as well, to tell ourselves: “I am doing the best I can right now.”
Above all make it fun! Enjoy applying the tips and remember, they are this small for only a short period of time.
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To your family success!
Your Therapy Friend,
Sofia Robirosa is the owner of Infinite Therapeutic Services and is a Relationships & Parenting Expert. She offers individual, couples, and family counseling to individuals seeking to enhance their relationships, in her private practice, located in Plantation, FL. She attended Nova Southeastern University for both her bachelor and master degrees in marriage and family therapy and in business administration. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a Leader in Active Parenting for children and teens, an evidenced based program. She is also a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She is a passionately committed therapist, who thoroughly takes pride and joy from her job. She enjoys working with a culturally diverse population, and is bilingual in Spanish and English. She is a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and an active volunteer of the Broward Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves her family, which is consisted of her husband, daughter, and two dogs. Some of her interests outside of work include spending time outdoors, traveling, and dining. Read more about her at: www.infinitetherapeuticservices.com and follow her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/infinitetherapy/