Self-Care for Parents
Kids don’t come with a manual. As a parent the number one concern is always safety. There is a constant need to keep them from harm’s way, and sometimes that means keeping them from harming themselves. There is a need for unconditional love to be displayed and provide structure, nurture, and so many more ingredients that you hope as a parent will result in physically healthy, and emotionally mature kids who grow up to become competent adults. All of this is easier said than done. You do your best as the parent to instill your morals and values. You role model how to resolve conflict, and apply active listening skills. With multiple influences from social media and entertainment, all competing for your child’s attention, you hope your voice will prevail.
My question to you is ‘How do you recharge your battery? When do you take care of yourself?’ The role of a parent can be overwhelming, and you have to find ways to stay energized. What does “self-care” mean? The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. Taking care of your spiritual, physical, psychological, and social needs will help you feel your best so you can be the best parent for your child. It’s important to set aside a little bit of time for self-care even when you feel like you don’t have a single second to devote to yourself. While there are many different self-care strategies for parents, it’s important to experiment with them to figure out which strategies work best for you. Here are a few self-care ideas you can try.
Spend Time in Nature
Studies have found that spending time in nature can be good for your psychological well-being. A quick walk in the park, a hike on a trail, or time spent tending a garden could help you feel rested and relaxed.
If you don’t have many opportunities to get outside and be in nature, you still have some options. Looking at landscape photos can be just as calming as physically being in nature.
You can also bring green spaces indoors with some indoor plants. Of course, it’s important not to purchase tons of indoor plants if the upkeep is going to create more stress in your life.
If you live near the coast, plan a trip to the ocean. Being near the water also produces a relaxation effect. A study published in Health & Place found that looking at “blue spaces” reduced an individual’s risk of depression and anxiety. In addition to creating a sense of inner calm, water has also been found to increase creativity.
Listen to Music
Whether you find classical music soothing or you prefer to dance to some 80s tunes, listening to music can be a great way to take care of yourself. You don’t necessarily need to set aside a special time to listen to music. Turn it on while you’re feeding your little one or listen to your favorite song while you’re getting ready for the day. It’s a simple thing that can go a long way toward boosting your mood and helping you feel ready to tackle whatever life throws your way.
Go for a Walk
Exercise can be just as good for your mind as it is for your body. You might not always feel like you have time to hit the gym or to engage in an intense workout. Fortunately, a brisk walk can be an excellent self-care strategy.
Whether you’re pushing a stroller or you’re walking by yourself, get your body moving for 20 minutes. A little extra activity can help you feel energized for the rest of the day.
Write in a Gratitude Journal
Studies show people who keep gratitude journals sleep longer and experience higher quality sleep (something every parent could likely use). The best part is, writing in a gratitude journal only takes a few minutes of your time and it doesn’t cost you any money.
Before you go to sleep, jot down three things you’re thankful for. Your list might include simple things, like a sunny day, or it may include big things, like being able to get a debt paid off. Either way, simply reminding yourself of the things you have to be grateful for can help you feel good about life.
Engage your Senses
It’s hard to be in the moment when life is busy. Engaging your senses is a good way to relax and find a sense of inner peace. Light a scented candle, take a hot bath, listen to soothing sounds, or drink some herbal tea. Engaging one or more of your senses can be a simple but effective way to take time out from the hustle and bustle.
Carve out Time to be Alone
Some parents find the only opportunity for solitude seems to be in the restroom. It’s important to give yourself a few minutes of alone time aside from bathroom breaks.
Even if it’s just five minutes each day that you set aside to relax by yourself, a little solitude can help you unwind. Whether that means waiting until your child takes a nap or waiting until a friend or family member is watching your child, give yourself permission to charge your batteries with a little alone time.
The best thing you can do is take care of yourself in order to be here for your children. You deserve to take time for yourself to ensure you are rejuvenated to continue to work of being a full-time parent. Please don’t feel guilty about taking time for self-care. Don’t neglect the most basic components of self-care: eat a healthy diet, get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, and get regular exercise. Don’t expect perfection when it comes to maintaining a tidy home, but do keep up on the basics—dishes, vacuuming, and laundry.
Then, integrate regular self-care strategies into your routine. Keep in mind that the times when you’re thinking you don’t have time to take care of yourself are likely the times when you need to practice self-care the most.