The last two years have been a lot. Are you tired, mama? Because I sure am. I’m the kind of tired that lives in my bones, aching to lie down and take a nap. The kind of tired that makes me cranky and defensive, when I know that I am not being my best self. Mama needs a night out.

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In March 2020, my family of origin essentially fell apart. The vision I had of us in my head as a happy, resilient family shattered and I was left numb. That same month, the universe decided that it’d be cool to throw us into a global pandemic, and we all know what that looked like. Working at home full time while raising a feisty, little toddler was, and continues to be, exhausting. The last two years were hard because of events out of our control, but also because life just keeping life-ing. I spent these last two years trying to rebuild a more sustainable, joyful day to day.

Having to juggle kid stuff, work stuff, LIFE STUFF is tough. Someone always gets sick, or a car breaks down, or you remember that you have to get dinner on the table yet again and it throws your well-constructed routine off balance. Add to that the constant uncertainty and grief of the last 2 years, the mental load of trying to do it all, and it can be borderline impossible.

What I know now is that without community to support each other, whether its family, friends, teachers, therapists… without support, parenting the way I want to is not feasible.

You know the clichés. You’ve got to take care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Got to put on that oxygen mask first.

They are clichés for a reason.

They work, mama. And deep down, we know that. We know that we are better when we take care of ourselves. Better able to parent. Better able to be a role model.

Over the past two years, as I’ve rebuilt what my life looks life, I’ve learned the importance of asking for help, because this life is not doable when you are alone. I’ve learned the importance of taking time for myself, of how my body needs to move, how my heart needs to be nourished. I know that when I don’t do these things I can be mean.

I know that I need friends, need a supportive community. I need space to be silly and vent about all the wild things that happen not only in parenthood, but in life. And I need space to do that away from my darling family.

My daughter is one of the biggest joys in my life. I’m lucky to be her mama. But being her mama is also one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Just this morning, I pulled over the car after drop off and just cried. Because I was tired, because I lost my cool. Cried because my little one was so sad that I had to drop her off after being home sick (socially anxious pandemic babies are a THING y’all).

Then I texted some friends. Went home, meditated. And I knew that that weekend I would be getting a night out with some of my crew, because past me sometimes knows that I will need it. And doing all of this, knowing that I would be with friends doesn’t make the tired go away, but it helps so much.

So my question for you, my challenge for you is this: When are you going to take time for yourself, time to experience fun outside of parenthood? Time to recharge in community? When are you going to have a night out?

Barbara Grant Boneta is Founder, Developmental Specialist, and your overall parenting guide at Nudge and Cradle, as well as founder of the kinkeepers event series. She has over a decade of experience supporting young children and their families in a variety of contexts, and is passionate about empowering families to raise socially conscious, empathetic children while taking care of themselves. She has been working in early intervention for over ten years, and works as an educational consultant, graduate professor, and full time mama. Barbara was born in Mexico, where she still has family and visits frequently, and was raised in a bicultural, bilingual household. She is a proud Latinx mama who lives in Austin, TX with her partner, dog, and very adorable toddler.

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