Time to Parent

Time to Parent

I just got back yesterday from my summer vacation in North America–so now I’m back JewishMOMing (online and in real life too).
The transition from 2 weeks of dreamy relaxation interrupted only by schmoozing and eating to my regular mothering responsibilities has been somewhat sweet and somewhat jarring. A mother’s responsibilities, I’m reminded, are at once amorphous and overwhelming. Kinda like the size of the galaxy.
During my vacation, I read a fascinating book I’ve been waiting to tell you about: Time to Parent: Organizing Your Life to Bring out the Best in Your Child and You by bestselling author Julie Morgenstern.
Julie Morgenstern attempts to break down and clearly define what a parent’s responsibilities actually are. Paring them down from amorphous and overwhelming to clearly-defined and do-able.
The first four parenting responsibilities spell out PART (as in, doing our part for your children).
P: Provide-Creating a safe and secure environment for our children: providing our kids with food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care, and physical and emotional safety.
A: Arrange- Organizing schedules, spaces, paperwork, housework, transportation, traditions (a biggie for us JewishMOMs). Arranging creates a solid infrastructure for our kids so that their days can run smoothly and predictably.
R: Relate- Talking, listening, reading, playing, and going on outings and adventures with our children. Relating doesn’t have to take a ton of time. Even a few minutes can deeply satisfy a child. And it can be healing for us too, to get out of our check-list and into our present.
T: Teach–Imparting values, life skills, and discipline that enable kids to succeed in life. We teach through our positive role-modeling, spending time with our kids to gauge what guidance they need, and actual direct interactions in which we instruct our children.
The next four responsibilities spell out the word SELF (our self-care responsibilities. Nurturing ourselves which also enables us to nurture our kids.)
S: Sleep– Getting enough sleep at night as well as naps. Experts say adults need at least 7-9 hours a night to function well, with ten to twenty-minute naps when needed.
E: Exercise–Exercise keeps us healthy, it recharges us on a biological level and also sharpens our cognitive ability if we exercise for at least 90-minutes, at least 3 times a week, though even 5-10 minute workouts can give us a helpful boost. This category also includes taking care of our physical health, with healthy eating and doctor visits.
L: Love–Conversations, activities, and connecting with husband, friends, and extended family. Adult connections should be frequent enough that you feel them fueling you–as a person, and therefore as a parent.
F: Fun–Hobbies, passions, personal projects that fuel your curiosity and creativity, and time spent simply relaxing and unwinding. Making time for your personal pleasures is the opposite of selfish. The hour or even half-hour you spend away from your kids will make it possible for you to be more fully present for all the hours you do spend with them.

Every mother has her strengths and weaknesses. I, for example, am a pro at providing and arranging (I realized just how important my hours spent arranging is when I came home from my vacation and heard about all the minor and not-so-minor mishaps that took place in my absence). But my teaching and relating could use a boost.
Also with self-care, I’m great at exercising and am pretty good at sleeping enough and having fun. But my adult connections, with friends and extended family, need some attention.

It’s easy to read this list and feel guilty about the things we need to strengthen. But guilt is rarely helpful (and believe me, I’m speaking from personal experience:) The point of this list is to look at our lives, and see where we can make microscopic, 1%, but consistent improvements. That’s the secret to real and lasting personal change for our children’s sake as well as our own.

10 comments

  1. Wow, this is good important stuff. Thanks for posting!

  2. When I saw a new post I was so excited!

  3. welcome back! missed you!
    i think after many kids we should stop reading parenting books and just be ourselves that s the best teachings we can give them. i read the most extraordinary book on the subject and its enough for me…it s called emoun by dikla yossefsberg (in hebrew only what a pity) and it helps taking away the guilt. also she explains that our grandmothers didnt need parenting book because they didnt question their own abilities.
    stop guilt stop “we should” every child has the perfect parent he needs for his very special life!

    • Once, when one of our children was being more than a bit challenging, I happened upon something that calmed me and even made me smile:
      I learned that every child’s neshoma is shown the world while it is still under HaShem’s Kisei haKavod and is asked to pick out his parents. That neshama decides who will be his parents!
      therefore, we can smile when our children deride our parenting abilities–as they were the ones who picked us to raise them in the first place!!

    • JewishMom

      I hear that!

  4. welcome home, chana jenny!
    i missed shmoozing with you over my morning coffee! and that part about relating to adults, i don’t know why you think you are lacking in that area! every day you connect with me and thousands of other women–sharing ideas, giving and taking emotional support, venting, and just hanging around shooting the breeze.. I honestly think of you as a good friend, and I’m sure i’m not alone there…

  5. Yes! I get more chizuk from small nuggets of wisdom , an article or story, rather than reading an entire book or method of a specific person. Also when we have several kids there is NO book that caters to all of them, each kid needs his own library of books 😄
    So thank you Chana Jenny for breaking down this book into bite size chunks of wisdom !

  6. Sorry I was replying to Ann above….

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