When you become a parent it is important to realize that there will be many new challenges that you will face, all of which will add certain levels of complexity or stress to your life. If not dealt with or prepared for correctly you can wear yourself down or burn yourself out very quickly. These challenges can include things like trying to balance your career with being a parent, finding enough alone time, overcoming body confidence issues, or learning about and working with your children’s behaviors and emotions as they find their way through life. There are plenty of positives to becoming a parent, but you need to be realistic with yourself and what is expected of you in order to best take care of yourself and your children, that is why you should give yourself time and energy to self-care.
What self-care means
The word self-care is an umbrella term that is used to describe looking after any part of your mind, body, and soul. The way you look after these three parts of yourself is by focusing on your physical, social and emotional states, and altering what you do in your life to better align yourself. When specifically talking about parenthood, there are many forms of practicing self-care from getting enough sleep and eating healthier, to getting a mommy makeover, meditating, or taking some well-deserved “you time” to chill out and relax.
Why self-care is important as a parent
The reason that self-care is so important, especially as a parent is that you are not only responsible for your own health and well-being, but that of your children too. Without the proper maintenance, care, and attention that you deserve, you may quickly feel and notice the quality of your life, decisions, and actions that you take begin to decline. Unfortunately, self-care is often seen as a luxury, as opposed to something that everyone needs to help them function to the best of their ability. Self-care is almost as important, if not as important as making sure that you eat, drink and sleep enough. And actually, a huge part of self-care in any situation is making sure you are doing enough of all of these things.
How parents can incorporate self-care
Sometimes trying to get enough, or the right kind of self-care can be hard, especially when you are a parent. Having kids, especially young ones that constantly require large amounts of your attention and energy can be tricky to work around. However, there are several ways in which you can easily incorporate various forms of self-care into your life, here are a few ideas that you could try.
Involve the whole family
If you can find something fun, relaxing, quiet, or creative that you can all participate in as a family then this is a great way of not only improving your own emotional and social state but also that of the rest of your family. It can be a creative way to help express feelings and bond, while also finding out more about the ones you love.
An example of this could be introducing a nap time routine after lunch. This can work particularly well especially for younger children, as this will help give you a known time of the day when you can rest for a period of time and recharge both physically and emotionally.
Ask for help
There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Some people will feel like they are failing or that their best isn’t good enough, but truthfully it is better to ask for help when you need it rather than continue along a path you know is destructive. This help could come from a partner, parents, or even friends. Having help from friends and family members can help you both emotionally, physically, and even socially by giving you those small and well-needed breaks.
4 self-care ideas for parents
If you are still looking for a few ideas on what you can add to your daily life to improve your self-care routines, then a selection of the following may be of interest to you.
• Spending more time outdoors
Whether you do this alone, with a partner, a group of friends, or even your children, spending time outdoors is a great way to reconnect with nature, reset your body, and relax. Many of us have forgotten where our ancestors came from, and sadly due to the modern way of living people tend to spend too many hours indoors, both at home and at work. If you can get outdoors regularly you will not only be getting exercise and improving your physical health, but you will help to align your senses too. At work, and in most modern homes there are generally a lot of things going on and quite often people’s brains can be overstimulated. Leaving these busy environments as often as you can is a great way to improve your self-care.
• Add meditation to your day
The great thing about meditating is that you can squeeze it into almost any time of the day, even if you are pushed for time. You can do it for as short or as long as you want and still receive many benefits from it. If you are unsure how to meditate then following a guided meditation could be something that you look at doing. If sitting quietly and doing “nothing” isn’t your thing, then there are also breathing exercises such as Wim Hof that bring many of the same benefits as meditation. You could even consider teaching or allowing your children to join you in these exercises, not only could it be a nice experience for you all to share, but you will be teaching them self-care actions that they can implement into their lives from a young age.
• Find and do a hobby that you enjoy
Finding a hobby or trying to fit in the things that you used to enjoy prior to becoming a parent can be tricky at times, but it is rarely impossible. So, something that is highly recommended is making time to include a hobby in your lifestyle. It could even be something that you introduce to your family members and get them involved with too. Who knows, maybe you will all find that you enjoy this hobby and then all of a sudden it will become a lot easier to make time for doing it. If you are unsure what you enjoy doing, then do not panic, there is no set timescale or rules in finding a hobby. Each day, week, or month you could pick something to try, and see if you like it. If you don’t enjoy the activity you chose, there is no harm in looking for something else to try.
• Treat yourself
It can be easy to feel guilty when spending time, money, or energy on yourself, and not your family or children. However, it is just as important to remember to treat yourself now as a parent, just like you would have before you decided to have a family. You don’t need to go crazy and spend thousands on luxury holidays (although, this is not off limits either), it could be something as simple as getting a haircut, taking yourself out for a coffee, or just buying a book or cooking utensil that you have been dreaming of for a while. Whatever it is that you want, be kind to yourself and make sure that you treat yourself every now and then.
In conclusion, there are plenty of ways in which you can include some form of self-care into your life as a parent. So, why not try one of the ideas above?