So, Friday evenings have always been about taking it easy for us as a couple – even before kids came along.
Post-kid, they have become a bit more about “There is no way I am cooking another dinner! Let’s go for pizza! (In the car N.O.W.)”
So Fridays have become a family tradition: Pizza Night.
But most recently, I have found that outings to our beloved neighbourhood pizza joint have become less enjoyable for me.
But when I’ve resisted this weekly treat, my husband and kids are so disappointed. It has become something they so look forward to.
And so, I have gone along with it FOR THEM.
The thing is, that while I go for them, I am pretty miserable company TO THEM.
I get there so tired, and there is so much noise and havoc (at the table and beyond), that I find it quite exhausting and stressful.
I dish out threat after threat: “If you don’t sit still, there’ll be no pocket money.” “If you don’t stop yelling, there’ll be no desert.” It has stopped being fun.
Weekend are full-on for many Moms.
In the old days Fridays used to be the beginning of a respite.
Now, with kids, they are often less relaxing than the weekday routine (for me, anyway).
The house is full of 5 big personalities, their emotions, their needs, their energies. It wares me out a lot of the time.
It has taken me a while to figure out that preparing for them emotionally and mentally is a key factor to having fun family weekends.
And I’ve finally come to the conclusion that going out for pizza, is not a good start.
So, I decided to try something new.
I’m stepping out!
This last Friday I told my husband to please go ahead and take the kids for pizza WITHOUT ME, and to enjoy it. And I’ll admit…it felt a bit scary. Yikes.
I recalled the recent article in the Washington Post, confirming that it is indeed quality time (versus quantity of time) with parents that most positively impacts children.
“This”, I said to myself, “is what I need to aim for.”
“But you SHOULD do this – it’s FAMILY TIME. It’s your precious family tradition”, I heard.
My “shoulditis” was creeping in.
I consciously chose to listen to another voice there and then.
I told myself that it was ok for me to relinquish family time in exchange for alone time doing some beloved NOTHINGNESS that ensured quality interactions later on.
Stepping out was ok- even on pizza night.
I let go of worries that my tired husband couldn’t manage three tired kids in the crowded pizzeria on a Friday night. (“Trust him.”I whispered. “He’ll manage.”)
I listened to the voice that said (and that I’d spoken to one of my own clients earlier in the week!): make choices that serve YOU. It is only when you are best served, that you can best serve others.
I reminded myself that it was OK to be absent from what had become a family tradition. They’d have more fun without me.
Yes, stepping out was good idea.
I waved to them as they drove off to the pizzeria, looking back at me slightly confused. (I was breaking tradition, after all?!)
I prepared my salad, poured myself some lemonade and sat on the couch in search of a good HBO series.
And guess what? They got back alive and chipper to a responsive Mom who was ready to cuddle (versus the usual Friday night Mom who wants to run away from home).
We snuggled on the sofa – all five of us – and watched a little bit more TV as a family (this is something we NEVER do).
And then we ALL went off to bed in a good mood.
I was out by 9:30 pm and up and ready for a fun Easter weekend by 7!
A new family tradition? Hmmmm….
Mom, have you set up family traditions that don’t work for you? Do you need to step out of them once in a while? How can you rejig these with a conscious self-loving “I’m going for quality, not quantity” mindset?
Remember, a happy Mom makes for a happy family!
Listen to that inner voice and make your choices serve you.