Trying to find time for yourself as an adult can be way more difficult than it should be

OPINION: One thing I learned on my parenting and adulting journey is how difficult it can be to balance time for your family and time for yourself.

parenting self-care,
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Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

As of this writing, I’m sitting in my house all by myself while my wife is out with my children heading to a huge field to look at tulips and sunflowers, largely to take pictures of those things. I think the official reason is: exposure, which I suppose is a pun, of sorts. But that’s neither here nor there; the point is that I am at home alone enjoying some much-needed alone time, even if it happened under the guise of having to finish work. 

In my experience as a parent, there isn’t a ton of free time to ourselves. There’s always a need to get kids from place to place, and in our case, I have a 2-year-old that is home with us during the day. Typically, because of child care, my wife OR I get out to do things with our friends and on some occasions, we paint the town red as a duo. Usually, there’s not a ton of alone time IN the house. On its face, it’s exciting to be home alone but at this juncture of my life’s journey, when I am alone at home, I only think about all of the things around the house I need to get done. I think about the laundry, the dishes, the pictures that need to be hung and toys that need to be put away. 

While I should be sitting on the couch binging one of what feels like a million shows I need to catch up on, I genuinely intended to start on the bottom floor and work my way up to get at least SOMETHING done in the house that needs to be done. On its face, that feels pointless; there is ALWAYS something else to do in this house so taking a day off shouldn’t feel like I’m neglecting things. Unfortunately, it does. 

This … is not self-care. 

I know I need to take a break but I have this innate need to always be taking care of something. I’ve had this convo with a bunch of my married-with-kids homies, and they all say they feel the same. Now, some are definitely able to find the balance better than the rest of us. In fact, I know a person or two who tips that scale all the way the other way, getting all of the self-care and none of that concern about productivity. Interestingly though, I’m making it more of a goal for my life to make sure that I’m able to be the best version of myself for my kids and wife; if I’m not happy and seeing to my mental peace, how can I do that for the family that needs me? 

I’m a work in progress, though. For as much as I want to sit here and chill as soon as I finish writing this article, I know exactly my order of operations for the rest of the time my wife and kids won’t be home and none of that involves me doing nothing. It all involves … something — which especially sucks because I couldn’t go look at tulips and sunflowers with the kids, which would probably have done wonders for my own peace of mind. There’s nothing like being in the open air looking at a sunflower that’s two feet taller than you. Plus it makes for great album art should I ever decide to release an album.

For now, though, I think I’ll just try to visualize myself taking a break, and one day I’m sure I’ll actually buckle down and do it. Plus, my wife, who manages to both do a lot and find some time, seems to have a universally happy glow about her and I’m trying to get some of that Bruce Leroy glow whenever I can. 

So what’s the point of all of this: I don’t know. Perhaps I’m just sharing. But I do think that finding time to chill for one’s self is important and I’m searching like Roy Ayers for it. 

Parenting. Adulting. Whew, chile — the ghetto.  

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.