As parents we are always on the go! Not just physically but also mentally. Often while we are in the middle of one task our mind is already racing ahead to the next or thinking about something else that needs to be done. Chewing over worries we have, analysing what when wrong and why, how we can fix things, what’s for dinner and did I remember to put the laundry on! Sound familiar?
And this is not good for us. Our mind and body need a break every day to re-energise and help us cope better with situations that family life (or work life) present to us. This is why you should NOT feel guilty about taking time to look after yourself EVERY DAY. And why self-care really is the best care – because it makes you a better parent, so really you are doing it for your kids!
Self-care is not navel-gazing or laziness, nor self-indulgence or pampering. It is more grounding and important than that. It is when we listen to ourselves and our needs: ‘what do I need right now to calm down, to re-energise’? Is it a cup of tea in the garden while doing nothing. Is it a bath with a good book or is it a walk around the block to clear my head?
So check in with yourself daily when you feel a bit stressed, tired or flustered and ask, ‘what do I need right now or later today?’. When we meet our needs and listen to them we start to feel more emotionally balanced and calmer, and we automatically start reacting differently to life’s demands.
Ways you can meet your needs on a daily basis:
- It’s about the small things: it doesn’t need to be a pamper day or a weekend away (although that is nice sometimes), it can be small things that we do for ourselves daily that give us that boost to get through the day and even start enjoying it! A bath, a good book, listening to your favourite music, a short walk, a phone call to a friend etc.
- Digital detox every day: your lunch break is not for checking your emails, phone, scrolling on Facebook or doing your personal online admin. It’s a BREAK away from work or chores and to enjoy your lunch. Try to put everything aside and just focus on your food and eating mindfully. Or a walk around the block to get some air and movement. Digital NO NOs: when with your kids, when eating meals, late at night, first thing in the morning, in bed!! Try to give yourself a digital break every day!
- Air and exercise: try a 10 minute mindful walk where you leave all worries behind and just focus on what is around you; the birds, cars, trees, houses etc.
- Say NO: we are often quick to say YES. Maybe we don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings with our NO, or we don’t want to face the confrontations of a NO. But try to say NO to others and YES to yourself more often! ‘Actually I’m sorry I don’t want to drive you today, because I’m tired’!, ‘No, I’m sorry I can’t look after your dog today, I need some time to rest’.
- Delegate: ask for help. Maybe talk to your partner about how you can fit in every day self-care and delegate jobs so you don’t have to do it all. If you are single talk to friends and family about supporting you so you can have windows of Me-Time every day (maybe do a swap, where you take turns looking after each other’s kids). And trust your family (kids as well) to help with the daily chores! Jobs might not be done as well as you would do them but let go of perfection to create more time for you and special time with your family.
- Plan it: if you find it hard to fit in some self-care, plan it. Work out EACH day when you can fit in some time for you and WHAT you will do to support yourself.
Evidence shows that people who practice more self-compassion are generally happier and better company, and parents! They are less reactive to issues in their life and have more energy and time for others. Self-care is the best care!
From the ParentingSuccess Team
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