For Goodness Sake Take Care of Yourself!

Carpenters have hammers, painters have brushes, parents have….

I make this analogy frequently – if a carpenter were to leave his tools to sit out in the rain for days and weeks without maintenance, he would soon be unable to function to his best of abilities, if at all. They would rust, they would break, they would become stuck. A carpenter must care for his tools – sharpen his saws, file his chisels, replace broken or missing pieces. It is no different for parents – except our tools are less tangible.

As parents, we have very few tangible tools. In the place of hammers and saws we have emotion, love, humor and intuition. If we begin to suffer, those that we are called to care for will not be far behind. Our “work” as parents is dependent on our ability to maintain our own needs. Some might respond, “But my kids always come first, they are my main priority!” Yes, I agree – my kids are my priority too, but I can’t be expected to care for them if I’m not even able to care for myself.

I recognize that this metric will not work for every family, but it is a tool that my wife and I have begun to use in ours, we call it “Man, Husband, Father,” in my wife’s case we call it, “Woman, Wife, Mother.” The easiest way to describe it is to move backwards; in order to be a strong father, I must first be a strong husband, and in order to be a strong husband, I must first be a strong man. If the man suffers, both the husband and father will also suffer. If the wife is suffering, it is likely that the mother is suffering will well.

Man → Husband → Father

As parents we juggle several roles that can be boiled into this overly simplified equation. Strong and healthy individuals yield strong and healthy spouses, which in turn yield strong and healthy parents. Each is dependent on the others. By breaking it down into three simple roles, my wife and I have found that we are more capable of pinpointing exactly which areas of our lives need cared for.

Be sure to care for each of your roles on a regular basis. Care for your spouse, take time to participate in a leisure or recreational activity of your choice; by caring for yourself, you will be performing maintenance that will allow you to perform at your highest abilities as a parent.

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