Sometimes our lives get to be too much. Whether we are working, helping out our kids, or even doing chores around the house. Where do we find the time to relax? How is our parenting style affected by our own busy lives?
Lila, a proud wife and mother of three, balances her children and married life in addition to having her own independent career. She has been married for 17 years to her husband Rick, and together they raise their three children – Evan, 13, Bradley, 11, and Danielle, 6.
Linda Levin decided to interview Lila, a working woman, mother, and wife, and ask her pertinent questions on how she is able to maintain sanity by juggling so many balls in the air.
Linda Levin: Lila, how do you keep yourself sane by balancing three different aged children, having a career, and maintaining a healthy marriage?
Lila: The words “grateful” and “healthy” come to mind. Sure, my daily schedule can be very hectic and challenging at times and there are days when I definitely feel tired and a bit overwhelmed, but you know what? As long as my children and my husband and I are all healthy and feeling good (knock on wood!), I truly remind myself every day that I have nothing to complain about. If my loved ones are all healthy, then I’m happy. I also remind myself that the busy, hectic life that I have being a wife, mother of 3, and running my own business is exactly the kind of life that I signed up for. Feeling appreciative and totally grateful for what I have keeps me sane.
What form of discipline do you use when parenting your three children? (Ex: Permissive, democratic, or authoritarian) How does it differ with each age group?
L: I would definitely have to say that my parenting style and form of discipline is democratic. I pride myself on being a strict/fair/loving parent with high expectations for my kids. I set the bar high in our household when it comes to getting good grades in school, having good manners, being involved in extra-curricular activities, keeping rooms clean, etc. because I have every confidence that my children will live up to my high expectations. And they do – most of the time!
I’ve also never shy away from using the word “no” with my kids. I remember, for example, when my oldest son was 10 and he begged me to buy him a violent, totally inappropriate video game that “all of his friends” were playing. I went with him to GameStop and asked the young salesman who worked there,
“Are mothers of 10-year-old boys really buying them this video game?”
His answer to me was simple: “Yes, because they’re too afraid or too lazy to say ‘no’ to their kids. It’s just easier for them to give in.”
My son heard every word and I was glad he did.
I remember turning to Evan (son) and proudly saying something like, “Well, I’m not afraid to say ‘no,’ so sorry Evan, but you’re still not getting the video game.” Then, I took my disappointed son out for ice cream and we ended up having a fun outing anyway.
I’ve found over the years that using the word “no” can be exhausting and difficult, but sometimes it’s simply the best and only word to use when parenting.
L: I try to plan activities that we can all enjoy doing together such as: ice skating, bowling, swimming, and hiking. We also enjoy working on different jigsaw puzzles together as a family. But, I have to say that my absolute favorite family entertainment that we all love doing together is trying out new restaurants and eating together. My kids have always been wonderful, adventurous eaters and we all enjoy eating different ethnic foods.
As much as I love cooking my family home-cooked meals and eating at our kitchen table, I’m probably my happiest and most relaxed when the 5 of us are gathered around a restaurant table all eating delicious food and talking with one another. I also love to see the pure joy and happiness in my children’s faces – and my husband’s – when a big, yummy dessert comes to the table and the 5 of us all dig in and share it!
Do you and your husband take each child individually, or do you usually do things as a group?
L: Both. There are days when the 5 of us want to do things together as a family – like when we all go to the Renaissance Festival together or go sledding up in Flagstaff – but then there are plenty of times when my husband and I plan special, individual “dates” with our kids.
My daughter and I have a standing date every Sunday morning when I take her to gymnastics school for “Open Gym” where I watch her practice gymnastics and jump up and down endlessly on the trampoline. I love to take each of my boys out individually to grab a hamburger, see a movie, or just hang out with them at the bookstore.
My husband and sons definitely enjoy their father-son bonding time by seeing science fiction movies together – the ones that I have absolutely no interest in seeing. My boys also love going to their Dad’s office every now and then on a weekend because. Rick works as a video game designer and programmer, so, in our family, playing video games is actually all in a day’s work!
My 6-year-old daughter also loves it, of course, when her Daddy takes her to the playground followed by an ice cream cone. They also love their occasional shopping trips to Target or Toys R Us. He has the best time.
Do you and your husband have family time and date time?
L: Because our weekends are pretty hectic with our kids’ sports activities, school projects, household chores and errands, etc. my husband and I sometimes meet for lunch on a weekday and enjoy lunch dates together. We always take our kids out to eat on the weekends as a family. As I mentioned, dining out is definitely a favorite, family activity of ours. But relaxing, weekday lunch dates for just the two of us are really wonderful and give us a chance to talk quietly, hold hands across the table, and reconnect with one another. We also love going out to the movies together as a couple.
How do you take time for yourself when you are not with your husband or children, in order to maintain balance and harmony in your life?
L: I love doing yoga and try to take a “flow” class at least once a week. Not only do I enjoy the relaxing stretching and breathing in yoga, I love the fact that I am actually asked to lie down for a full 5 minutes at the end of every class and simply do nothing. I also try to work out at the gym once or twice a week when my schedule permits for much-needed cardio. Also, I must admit that every now and then – on an occasional weekday when my kids are in school, hubby is at work, and my workload is not too crazy that day – I escape to the local movie theater and indulge in watching a movie. It does feel a little strange to go to a movie theater on a Monday at 11:15 a.m. all by myself, but boy, is it fun!