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Co-Parenting & Self-Care

   When I was a single mother, the running of my home put more on my plate, but it definitely ran much smoother! Now having a spouse and puppy in a new state changes the game on all levels. There is the factor of new state so not a lot of friends for me or my mini, bugs and other critters everywhere, the change in temperature that appears to be constant, co-parenting comes into play ( not just for the kid but for the too spoiled for his own good puppy as well). Then there is the how do we have alone time or an adult life as a couple, and just as importantly how do I implement my self care in this new land with new roles and responsibilities?! I’ve gone down the road, and can share all of my tips with you!

 First thing’s first, you must take care of you! Create your schedule for everything you do around your self-care schedule. YES, it is that important. How will you take care of anyone else or do anything well if you can not even take care of yourself? To begin with, have a conversation with your spouse. After all, the key to a happy co-led home is constant communication! Let them know how important they are to you and your relationship, as well as taking care of the house, the kid’s needs (I included the puppy in “kids”), and maintaining an overall happy environment throughout.  

 Now, this may look very different for you than it does for me. In explaining to your spouse what this means, you must be very detailed because it’s true what they say. Nine times out of ten, men are clueless when it comes to women’s needs! #FACTS. So if you want a better outcome, clearly state your needs and expectations, and why they are imperative to the overall success of the household. To me, and introvert, this includes a lot of alone time and peace and quiet! I know, we’re moms and spouses and that seems nearly impossible! But believe me, living in a home with two overly extrovertedly loud, extroverts and an excessively needy dog, I feel the struggle more than you can imagine. Now, if they respect you they will try their best to respect your wishes and also plan their day/activities around your needs, and it will likely fail the first few times since this is a new concept for them (and of course as children/men they must test everything). Staying consistent in this will help gain the success of this activity sooner rather than later. For me it took a couple months and a few breakdowns, but they finally got the message and know to leave me alone. And if I know they’ll need a day to be about and loud or creating some sort of distraction, I’ll elect to go work from the nearest coffee shop. If I was still in the city I would just go for a walk, but with Florida humidity it’s highly unlikely I’ll choose to be outside unless it’s at the beach with a cold drink in my hand.

  Once you’ve established your “me time” boundaries, it’s time to talk about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. That’s right, a SWOT Analysis of your home. I’ve done this with all my business runnings, and it has been a life saver. Yes, home life is more sensitive than running a business, but if you want to successfully run a household, the same values and rules apply. So again, I sit down with my spouse and begin with;

 Strengths: His – Outdoor activities and projects, fixing things, finding things to fix/upgrade, allowing the littles to help him in outdoor activities, math and finances. Mine – Creative with indoor activities and projects, cooking, being organized, dedicated to bettering our future, and advancing ourselves, pushing everyone to do more, very direct.

Weaknesses: no one likes to take out the trash, no one likes cleaning days, we both get frustrated when we’re not productive (since we’re both working from home, this can be a big deal), when we feel unproductive we both get moody which ends up making us more unproductive, at times we forget how the other communicates causing friction. 

Opportunities: Since we are aware of these weaknesses and are getting better of catching them in the act, we have the opportunity to stop the negative behavior patterns, come together, communicate with the intention to understand, not respond, find solutions, and compromise on what needs to be compromised. We have the same values and thoughts when it comes to what’s important in a family/home, the raising of children, and what we want for ourselves in life so, this gives us a huge advantage in creating a plan for each area of our life and each stage we will encounter together, ensuring a successful relationship which is key to the running of the household. 

Threats: We both realize that what and who matters is already inside of this family and whatever outer situation arises, we come together and nip it in the bud together. That being said, since our strengths and relationship is inner based, whatever real threat that may arise would come from the inside and create a distance between us (A.K.A. the weaknesses stated above, yes including the trash). So we must use our strengths and awareness to overcome and fight to not allow the weaknesses to win, even in our moments of weakness.

  Once you have come together to agree on the answers of these questions, everything will fall into place much easier. While you will have to compromise on a few things here and there, the overall environment and functionality at home will improve immensely and you will have a huge weight lifted off of your shoulders. You will be confident in knowing you have a true teammate you can rely on for anything and they will too. But, don’t forget to throw some fun in there! It’s important to establish rules, boundaries, and values, but you need to have some fun to complete the package. For example, the way my hubby and I communicate most of the time has some sort of corny joke to keep the mood light every day, and we’re always planning what trip we want to take next, or what business ventures we want to start together in the future and how our differences create the perfect balance to successfully carry these out. (yes, business talk is fun to us). Or we’re planning something simple and fun for the whole family to take part in such as a staycation, or beach day, or mini golf followed by movie night, lazy days, etc. 

 At the end of the day the successful running of a household is found in enjoying each other’s company while being able to respect boundaries and values. Communication is key to every type of relationship, but especially between two people who are responsibly creating a household environment for a family to live happily. Deep questions matter to get to the point and the very basics of what holds a family together. And never forget to have fun in everything you do, and enjoy each other’s company as much as possible.

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