I’ve been thinking a lot about appointments lately. Appointments, as in, "arrangement[s] to meet someone at a particular time and place.”
I used to dread appointments, but these days I don’t mind them so much. To be honest, I enjoy them. They give me a seemingly “legitimate” reason to drop everything and everyone (kidding) and get out of the house, regardless of what’s going on and who’s crying. So, to that end, I attend every school fieldtrip and parent-teacher conference. I try to take the kids to most swim practices, dance classes, and t-ball practices. I take the kids to their pediatric well visits and dentist appointments.
But I’ve started noticing something about these appointments.
None of them are for me. It is almost as if I’ve forgotten that I’m important too. Because here’s the thing—when you have small kids, you sometimes forget to take the time to see your own needs. It’s not a conscious decision; the days are just so full and unpredictable. There’s no time to think about yourself. Instead, you’re consumed with providing triage childcare, asking yourself—who needs the most right this minute? Can the other child’s needs wait? Will there be a break today where all the kids nap at the same time? How much more coffee can I drink today?
So I have a revolutionary idea, fellow parents. Let’s put ourselves on the calendar, just like we do when we schedule our kids’ activities. Because we clearly have no problem committing to times and dates for our kids—doctors' visits, dance practice, scouting trips, etc. So why can’t we have a standing weekly appointment for ourselves?
I’m not talking about that once-every-two-months haircut or your quarterly girls’ night out with friends. I’m talking about regularly scheduled time to do something for yourself each week—a standing appointment for yourself, to be yourself. So let’s get a sitter or ask our significant others to commit to an hour or two (or whatever you can manage) to have a standing appointment for ourselves. To do whatever makes us happy. To finally go to the gym alone. To wander the mall. To meet a friend for lunch.
And here’s the kicker—the real hard part—we need to walk out that door even if everything is going to hell in a handbasket. For me, I know that will be the hard part, because I normally only leave when things are settled and calm. But this time, you and I will be different. We will commit to leaving regardless of whether things are falling apart or not, because we need to have time alone as regularly as we take our kids to their extracurricular activities. It is important. We, and our needs, are important too. That is really hard to say, so let’s say it again—we, and our needs, are important too. It’s so easy to forget about yourself when you’re so busy tending to the needs of everyone else. I know that. So I’m telling you, fellow parent, we need this. We need time alone as much as our kids need to go to swimming or dance practice. In fact, I think we need it more.
So go ahead, break out your planner and pick a date. And when it comes you need to walk out that door because you have an appointment. With yourself. To be yourself.
A version of this post appears on my blog, http://www.rousselsixpack.blogspot.com. Also find me on Facebook! Roussel Six Pack.