There are so many different factors to consider when facing most of the common parenting issues.
The Nurse Judy approach is a combination of many years of medical experience, a desire to treat things as naturally as possible, a large dollop of common sense.
Finding Balance/ one of my favorite bits of wisdom...the Pie Theory
Our Uncle Davey made up a song that he used to sing every May; it went something like this:
If it weren't for your father, your mother wouldn't be your mother,
so don't forget to thank your father on Mother's Day.
Anyway, in honor of Mother's Day, for all of you mothers and fathers out there I will share one of my favorite pieces of wisdom, which I refer to as the "pie theory of life."
It is actually quite useful for everyone, parents and non-parents alike.
It is all about finding balance.
"pie theory" got its inception many years ago. For a number of years I
was the Parent Association President at my daughters' elementary school.
It took an inordinate amount of my spare time, including meetings
several times a week. On many levels it was rewarding being so involved
but I assure you, I was delighted to pass the reins when my stint was
over. Though I was really genuinely relieved to have my time back, I
felt off balance by all the sudden free time in my schedule, and at
first I couldn't figure out why I was so unsettled. I finally realized
that although the new empty hours were welcome, they had created a bit
of a vacuum. I filled it quickly (started taking up karate a few
evenings a week), but it was right around that transition period that
the "pie theory" helped me make sense of things.
your identity is a circle (or whole pie). Who you are is divided into
many pieces; some pieces are large, some small, some temporary. Some are
constants that are with you life long, some are optional, some are good
for your soul, while still others are energy sappers that give you
little in return.
Friend? Spouse? Ex spouse?
In a job/occupation or seeking one?
Doing a hobby that takes time and energy?
Member of a book club or any club for that matter?
and of course last but not least....
The list goes on and on. What activities make up your day, your week, your month, your year? What pieces make up your pie?
Take a few moments to figure it out.
interesting to think how you can be identified in different ways by the
various pieces of pie. Many folks recognize me as Nurse Judy. More than
once I have actually looked at a rash, or given advice from a
restaurant table (as my patient husband rolls his eyes). But there was a
time years ago when I came to work one day and saw a construction
worker on the roof of a neighboring building. He looked awfully familiar
and I was struggling to place him; was he a parent from the practice?
Someone from school? I could see that he recognized me as well; we kept
looking at each other and a moment passed. I could see that he had
figured it out first. He gave a big grin and called out " Ahoy there
Java's mom!" Of course! I ran into him several times a week with his
pack of dogs when I walked my dog Java. Not only did being a dog owner
dictate my daily schedule and get me out walking rain or shine, it also
included me as a member of a distinct social network in the neighborhood
for many years. All the dog owners knew each other by sight and all the
dogs by name. Being "Java's mom" was a wonderful piece of my "pie" for
12 years. If you are a pet owner, that piece has a very special place
allotted to it.
pie is finite. You can only do and be so much, as there are only so
many hours in the day. Some folks have too many things competing for
time and attention, and figuring out which pieces can be compressed can
be quite stressful. Sometimes we make poor choices
busy working parents this might be a foreign concept, but some folks
don't actually have enough pieces to begin to fill the shell. A big
empty pie can be just as unsettling as a full one.
you ever noticed that when you are super busy you can manage to get
through an entire to-do list very efficiently? On the other hand, on a
quiet day you may have only one or two things on the list but somehow
nothing gets done.
healthy pie has plenty of interesting pieces that can grow and shrink
according to your needs. The more forgiving and elastic the pieces, the
easier time you will have finding a good balance.
pie will naturally change from year to year, but some changes are
enormous. Some people are quite comfortable having a very crowded pie,
while others are quite fine and happy doing nothing at all. Part of this
is figuring out what your ideal is, and work towards that.
large sudden changes to your pie will make you feel unsettled, way less
so if you have a glimmer of what is going on, hence this theory. Both
of my daughters have taken this to heart. In fact Alana has permitted me
to share her own blog post on the Pie Theory that she wrote several
When there is a large shift in your pieces my girls and I refer to this as "pie disequilibrium"
Common culprits might include
planning a wedding or large event can spend months dealing with all the
fun details. When the event is over, that planner piece is gone, your
pie has a gap.
My daughter Alana has a twinge of "Pie Disequilibrium" every October when baseball season is over
My daughter Lauren had to learn how to deal with the extra time that appears after a show run is over.
that spend much of their time and energy tending to someone elses needs
might find themselves suddenly with a large vacuum when that person is
gone or no longer needs them.
As your children grow up and don't need you in quite the same capacity
it can be a tough adjustment (don't worry, they still love you)
this happens in stages. Kindergarten...a full day of school...college.
Parents who have the "parent piece" taking up the entire pie may
life changes will create seismic shifts. Nothing will ever match the
huge transitions that take place when you add the parent piece to your
pie. My best advice to you as you shuffle all your pie pieces and see
how things fit comfortably is to identify pieces that need to be
protected so that they don't get too small.
DO NOT IGNORE YOUR PARTNER!
Protect that piece. Get creative and make sure that you have time for the two of you have some moments being a couple
DO NOT IGNORE YOUR OWN NEEDS!
Being the best parent that you can be includes living by example.
Let your kids have parents that are multifaceted and not consumed by any one thing (be that parenting or a job.)
Best of luck finding a balanced, interesting, and fulfilling pie!