Adventures in Attachment Parenting: Striving For Balance by Allison Silver
When do you take a break? When do you get “me time”? When do you spend time with your husband if you are always with your baby? These are some of the questions that people have asked me over this past year when they have heard about my parenting choices. One of the eight principles of attachment parenting is to strive for balance in your personal and family life. The key phrase here is to strive for balance.
Finding a balance can be a struggle at times, especially when there is a little person who demands most of your time, energy, and attention. I do appreciate that Attachment Parenting International (API) acknowledges that the younger the child is, the more the child’s needs will take precedence over the family. There is no denying that this past year has been about our daughter. Her needs have taken center stage above our own needs and above the needs of our marriage.
Does this mean our marriage is suffering? On the contrary, I really feel that marriage has many different seasons within it. Right now my husband and I are in the “new parent” season of our marriage. Luckily we both agree on our parenting choices and have a great partnership. If we did not agree I am sure one of us would be feeling resentful. But since we do agree, we understand that this is just a phase or a season. Will it last forever? Probably not. But for right now we understand that we might have to adjust our visions of personal time or couple time to meet the needs of our daughter. We are not giving up our needs, we are just changing how we meet them to adjust to our new roles as a mother and father.
For the past year I have gone to bed with our daughter and my husband joins us later in the evening. This gives us both a bit of alone time to unwind or pursue other interests. During this time as long as I remain in some contact with her she will stay asleep so I read, check my email, or surf the web. Is it ideal for everyone? Probably not, but it works for us and it’s one way that we are each able to get some personal time.
This week we reached a new milestone. Our daughter has been sleeping a bit more soundly when she initially falls asleep so we decided to try something. My husband stayed in bed with her and I got up and had some honest to goodness “me time.”
To clarify, this is not the first time that I have been alone without my child in a year. I do take an occasional shower and I have left our daughter for an hour or two with my mother-in-law or my husband when I get a haircut or go to the grocery store. But this was the first time in a year that I had some “me time” in the evening. Nothing planned, just some unexpected quiet time. I really had no idea what to do with myself. Then I remembered that I had just made a chocolate carrot cake earlier in the day so I cut myself a slice of cake, poured a glass of red wine, sat on the couch, and watched a show that I had recorded on the DVR.
It was really nice to sit and enjoy my cake with no one trying to bid for my attention! But after I finished my cake, my wine, and one sitcom on the DVR, I began to think of all of the things I could get done while she was sleeping! This is where I continue to struggle with the balance of the roles of wife and mother. I should have watched another show, but instead I cleaned the kitchen counters. My “me time” lasted all of thirty minutes!
Striving for balance is a definite work in progress in our home. We will see how this progresses, but I am hopeful that one or two nights a week I will be able to slip away while my husband stays in bed with our daughter. Perhaps in a few months we will both be able to slip away and enjoy each other’s company while our daughter sleeps for an hour or two. I can guarantee that when that happens we won’t be cleaning counters!