Sunday, 4 August 2013

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The Importance of Reserve Time



In our juggling of life, whether one is SAHM, FTWM or PTWM, we often either overlook or dismiss the importance of having reserve time. Here are some thought-provoking advice from Dr. James Robson, one who has raised up his children well, and is in the position to share his advice to “young” parents like me. According to Dr. Robson:

“Parents whose kids are in the middle of a tumultuous adolescent experience must maintain a “reserve army.” A good military general will never commit all his troops to combat at the same time. He maintains a reserve force that can relieve the exhausted soldiers when they falter on the front lines. (The same strategy should be adopted by parents.) Instead of committing every ounce of their energy and every second of their time to the business of living, holding nothing in reserve for the challenge of the century.” (The New Strong-Willed Child, p. 217, 2004).

Many mothers plan to go back to work or step up their career when their children enter adolescence.  Although each family is different and there are exceptions, mothers idealistically believe that the heavy demands of babyhood and preschoolers “will end magically when they get their youngest in school. In reality, the teen years will generate as much pressure on them as the preschool era did” This is a “classic example” that many parents make.

“An adolescent turns the house upside down, literally and figuratively. Not only is the typical rebellion of those years an extremely stressful experience, but the chauffeuring, supervising, cooking and cleaning required to support an adolescent can be exhausting. Someone within the family must reserve the energy to cope with these challenges. Mom is usually the best candidate choice. Remember too, that menopause and a man’s midlife crisis are scheduled to coincide with adolescence, which makes a wicked soup!”

“It is a wise mother who doesn’t exhaust herself at a time when so much is going on at home.”
I can choose to pursue a busy career, but the author Dr. James Dobson went on to put into words that I have a hard time describing most accurately:

“But decisions have inevitable consequences. In this case, there are biophysical forces at work that simply must be reckoned with. If, for example, 80% of a woman’s available energy in a given day is expended in getting dressed, driving to work, doing her job for 8 or 10 hours, and stopping by the grocery store on the way home – then there is only 20% left for everything else. Maintaining the family, cooking meals, cleaning the kitchen, relating to her husband, engaging in all other personal activities must be powered by that diminishing resource. It is no wonder that her batteries are spent by the end of the day. Weekends should be restful, but they are usually not. Thus, she plods through the years on her way to burnout.”

“This is my point: A woman in this situation has thrown all her troops into frontline combat. She has no reserve to call on. (Our children’s) radical highs and lows affect our mood. The noise, the messes, the complaints, the arguments, the sibling rivalry, the missed curfews, the paced floors, the wrecked cars, the failed tests, the jilted lovers, the wrong friends, the busy telephone, the slammed doors, the mean words, the tears – it’s enough to drive a rested mother crazy. But what about a career woman who already gave at the office, then came home to this chaos? Any unexpected crisis or even a minor irritant can set off a torrent of emotion. There is no reserve on which to draw (upon). Parents should save some energy with which to cope with aggravation.”

According to Dr. James Robson, “To help you through the turbulence of (raising a child), you should”:

1. Keep the schedule simple.
2. Get plenty of rest.
3. Eat nutritious food.
4. Stay on our knees.

Whether or not his advice works for you, I am thinking hard about it and analysing it critically, reassessing my own life and approach. I will share my thoughts in due course.

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.
(Proverbs 12:15)

1 comment:

  1. Completely agree with these:
    According to Dr. James Robson, “To help you through the turbulence of (raising a child), you should”:

    1. Keep the schedule simple.
    2. Get plenty of rest.
    3. Eat nutritious food.
    4. Stay on our knees.

    - Our schedule is simple, and no rushing around for activities. If we feel rushed often, then something needs to go out of the schedule.

    - Sufficient sleep is compulsory for my kids, else they go cranky / hyper and drive me nuts. 2-hour downtime nap every weekday. I often take a long nap too, cos pregnancy is tiring and I recharge to handle them again.

    - Nutritious food keeps everyone healthy and avoids exhaustion from handling illnesses. Though nutritious, the menus are super-simple and rotated for minimal time in the kitchen. My "excuse": cows don't complain about eating grass every day, so my kids should get used to eating similar nutritious food on a rotation basis. Ha!

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