Ok, Single Mama’s, this one is all for you! (Not to worry not-so-single-mama’s and single ladies, I think you’ll find this actually applies to most of us). I was talking with a client the other day who was explaining to me her frustration about “mom time”. She is an amazing person and nurse, who works full time and has a houseful of kiddos. She was explaining to me how tired she was working full time, coming in early so she could leave early to start her second full time job, hustling kids to baseball, cooking, cleaning, laundry and the endless to-do list. With summer here, and her kids being out of school, this only amplifies the feeling of the constant need to entertain them. Enter the single parent comparison game, activity fatigue and summer burnout.
Her ex-husband only has the kids on his days off, and has very little in the way of expenses. Translation- He has free time and extra money laying around to constantly entertain the kids. He is the “fun parent”.
Mmhmm, you guessed it. Mama is finding the comparison game is hurting her mentally and financially, and she is frustrated and exhausted! She is constantly trying to find things to entertain her kids in every waking moment of their free time, and feels like a parent, while her ex-husband gets all the glory for being the fun one. Then, when he has the kids, emptiness and loneliness come creeping in, or she feels like she is missing out.
The Constant Need to Be Entertained
First off, let’s tackle the constant need to be entertained, because, she and I, neither one, realized that even as adults we are doing the same thing! “Hey, tomorrow’s Saturday, what do you want to do this weekend?”, or from coworkers “what are your plans this weekend”? We seem to have a need to fill up our free time.
She asked me, “did your parents constantly entertain you when you were growing up”? “Ummmm No! Actually, now that you mention it, they sure didn’t”.
Now granted, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, in a tiny town, but we got up, we played outside, we read books (gasp, from the library), and we daydreamed our summers away. Now that’s not saying we didn’t spend lazy, fun-filled days at the pool, and have sleepovers with our friends, but in general, we woke up in the morning and entertained ourselves. Our mom certainly did not feel an obligation to entertain us every day with outings and entertainment. We didn’t have jam packed daily calendars of stuff to do. We enjoyed, what Matthew Kelly calls “carefree timelessness”.
Ahhhhhh The Good ‘ol Days
I have been thinking about those good ‘ol days a lot since having that conversation with this amazing mama. I look back on those days fondly! Those were the actual, nostalgic, lazy, dog days of summer. They were a needed respite from the hustle and bustle of the busy school year that was jam packed with school, late practices, games, 4-H, church, friends, etc. (Can we just be honest for a second, that schedule is exhausting for the kids living it, let alone their mama’s who are juggling that x 2, 3, 4 or more other kids!)
I definitely do not look back and feel like I missed out on anything. If anything, it’s the exact opposite. I look back longing for that sort of peace, freedom and rest that seems to be absent in our modern busy lives.
I miss the days spent just hanging out in the garden with my mom, or spinning as fast as I could on my tire swing, or swimming in the ice-cold hose water in my horse tank “pool”, or spending summer evenings chasing fireflies or just staring up at the stars. Those seriously were the good ol’ days. So why do so many of us, with kids or without (because trust me, we do it too), put soooooo much pressure on ourselves to be constantly entertained?
This isn’t an article I had really planned on writing, but I think it’s a really important topic. We are a culture that is burnt out, frazzled and exhausted. We seem to get our value from being busy and being productive. I would challenge you to spend some time thinking about this. If you journal, here are some prompts to ponder.
I tell you this, because not only does endless entertainment zap your energy, but it zaps your bank account. Rachel Cruze wrote an amazing book called “Love Your Life, Not Theirs” which tackles the concept of comparison living. You can pick it up for $10 several times a year during their sales, or you can rent it from your library for free (which you know I’m a huge proponent of!)
Because I feel so passionately about this, we will regularly be exploring these topics. The next article in this series will be all about finding inexpensive or free things you can do with your kids this summer so you can make fun memories and keep trucking on paying off your debt. Keep an eye on your financial endgame! I want you to live an abundant life with a peaceful spirit, and to be financially successful and fabulously wealthy!
P. S. Great big hug to all of you mama’s out there who are doing it all! Show yourself some Grace and Love ladies! You’re Amazing humans!
Jenna Dowell is the owner of Elevations Wellness & Financial Coaching, Nurse Exec, Mountain Girl, Dog Mama, Adventurer and Fellow Dreamer.