When our kids were younger, I was working long hours at the church I pastored. My wife was working part time. The kids were in swimming, music and seasonal sports. And to top it all off, one of them was experiencing night terrors. You know, the kind of terrors where your child screams bloodcurdling cries that convince you a murder is happening down the hall in another bedroom? Those kind of night terrors.
There was one night in particular when my wife and I were both so tired, neither of us thought it was physically possible for us to get up and deal with night terror #638.
Our conversation in bed went something like this:
You get up.
No, you get up.
No, you have to get up. I got up last time.
I can’t get up.
I can’t even more.
Listen, I have to work tomorrow…you have to get up.
I can’t. Won’t. You don’t understand how exhausted I am. You get up or else…
We were both displaying the emotional maturity of a cabbage that night. In fact, when we got up in the morning we both said we understood for the first time in our lives that it was possible for a husband and wife to harm each other. We didn’t, but we felt like we could have. That’s how exhausted we were.
There are some things we understand quite well.
If you consistently spend more money than you make over a long period of time, you will go bankrupt.
If you run out of gas, your car stops working.
If you stop eating, you will get sick and eventually die.
Underneath is is a simple principle: if output is greater than input you suffer. Sometimes fatally.
So why is it that we think that rule doesn’t apply to us as parents?
I am amazed at parents who think that being a great parent = output without input.
We spend more money than we have to give our kids ‘every advantage’
We get up early and stay up late so our kids have a better life.
We so focus our energy and activity around our kids that we rarely have time left over for ourselves.
Much of our days–including weekends–is spent in a tiring cycle of work, household chores, kids activities, homework, sports, lessons, church and more.
What we came to understand in that season of life is that parents have needs too. Not just kids. And if the input into our lives isn’t greater than the output, you start to run flat or you go bankrupt.
That’s why it’s so critical for parents to put themselves first when it comes to personal growth.
Your kids (and the world) are making constant emotional, spiritual, relational and physical withdrawals. The only way to counterbalance this is to make sure that you are prioritizing healthy emotional, spiritual, relational and physical deposits.
This week, make a deposit into each account. Get yourself in a position where you can replenish yourself. Here are some ideas:
Do something you love to do. It will replenish you emotionally.
Spend some time alone with God. It will replenish you spiritually.
Hang out with a friend or family member who gives you life…you know, the kind of person that always makes you better when you’re around them? It will replenish you relationally.
Go for a walk, a run, a bike ride or do something physically rewarding, and then go to bed early. Shoot for eight hours of sleep at least one night (trade off the kids with someone if you need to). It will replenish you physically.
Once you’ve done each of these for a week, start working them into your calendar. If you stay fresh, you will be so much easier to be around. You’ll snap at the kids and at each other less. And you’ll be living the way God designed you to live, and maybe you’ll even find some joy in the journey.
What have you found helps you stay away from emotional, spiritual, relational or physical bankruptcy?