To help me with this post, I performed a quick google search seeking a definition of survival. I kindly came across this:
(noun) the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances.
It’s not difficult to see how this notion of “survival” applies to life with small children. Thankfully, each day we continue to “live or exist.” Each day, we undoubtedly encounter “difficult circumstances.” Case in point, our fit count was at five before we reached 9:30 a.m. this morning (and that was just Big M).
This idea of “surviving” has been in the forefront of my mind lately. I recognize and see it in my own life on a daily basis. In recent months, (basically, since Little M was born) I have found myself in said state more than I would probably like. In said state, I tend to sacrifice things that are normally really important to me like exercising, eating healthfully (and feeding my family healthfully), sleeping, taking care of myself, giving my children the time and attention they need and deserve, giving my husband the time and attention he deserves, helping others, and so on.
At times, “survival” feels robotic or automated. I go through the motions, and ensure everyone’s BASIC needs are met, but there are no extras, no joy, no pleasure, no quality, no richness.
In life, “survival” is an uncomfortable reality at times. Sometimes it might be just a few moments here and there throughout the day … trying to get a little one to go to sleep or distracting an older sibling while you tend to the younger one. Sometimes it may be the odd hour here and there … preparing a meal for your a family, packing for a vacation, or getting ready for work. Sometimes entire days can become states of survival like when you or your children are sick. Sometimes we can even be in a state of survival for weeks or months … like when you’re pregnant with subsequent children (and utterly exhausted) or dealing with a “reflux” baby.
It’s unfortunate that in these “moments” of survival that we (or I) sometimes (have to) resort to some less than favourable parenting choices … things we know we shouldn’t do … letting Little M cry, allowing Big M to watch a movie, cooking yet another Kraft Dinner cup for Big M, yelling at Big M, putting Little M in her swing a little too often, or letting Big M have her lunch in front of the TV.
As parents, I guess there’s times when we NEED to do these things … moments, hours, days, weeks, and sometimes even months in which we are encountering “difficult circumstances.” I think it’s important to recognize when we are in a state of mere “survival” and forgive ourselves a little for the choices we make during these times. Let’s just ensure we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’) don’t develop new (mostly undesirable) parenting habits that stick. Use them when you need them, but let them go when you they no longer serve you or your family.