Remind yourself of the person you were
Parenting is one of life’s greatest joys. But it comes with some sacrifices. Are you the movie lover who can’t remember the last movie you saw in the theatre? The exercise buff who let your gym membership expire because you hadn’t been there in months? Perhaps you’ve become accustomed to being referred to as “Jane’s Mum” or “Brian’s Dad”? It may feel as though you lost some of your personal identity after becoming a parent. It’s time to commit to self-care. Remind yourself of the person you were before you became Mum or Dad. Build a new you, yet again.
You’re the role model
As a parent, self-care is important, especially because your child is watching. He takes cues on how to act from you. She learns how to manage problems and to cope with stress by watching you deal with adversity. He learns about healthy relationships by seeing how you interact with your spouses, partners, friends and relatives. If we want to ensure our children have healthy role models to measure themselves against, we must make time to invest in ourselves.
For most parents with competing demands, the first thing to go is often related to self-fulfillment or self-care. It makes sense. Becoming parents, you live for your children. You learn they are worth sacrificing for. But there must be balance if we want to be the kind of role models our children can look to for learning how to navigate challenging situations and for knowing how to live a healthy, satisfying life. Remember, we are parenting for the future … preparing our children to become healthy 30, 40 and 50-year-olds. Model for them what that looks like.
Invest in yourself
Self-care is part of being a good parent. Consider these suggestions:
- Take care of your body. Get enough sleep (recommended 7-9 hours per night). Eat healthy foods including a combination of whole grains, lean meats and fishes, fruits and vegetables. Get moving. If the gym isn’t your thing, take a walk. (Or go out dancing!)
- Enjoy yourself. Commit to doing at least one thing you enjoy each week. Spend time on a hobby. Maintain your interests.
- Feeling stressed? Find ways to relax. Take a bath. Listen to calming music. Read a book. Practice mindfulness.
- Nurture the important relationships in your life. Find time to return messages, emails, and calls even if it is just a quick “thinking of you” text to a friend. Show your spouse or partner you care with a thoughtful note or small gesture.
- Invest in others. Helping others is gratifying and brings a sense of meaning and purpose to our lives. So get out and volunteer, join a community service organization, or engage in small acts of kindness. It’s easy helping an elderly neighbour unpack groceries, or picking up a busy friend’s child from school.
How to find the time:
- Allocate it: The time is there you just need to make it a priority, so put it in your diary, begin small, block out 15 minutes of your time and make it non-negotiable.
- Swap ‘self-care’ time: Organise with another time poor parent to arrange a couple of hours once a week where you take turns in looking after each other’s children and take time for you.
- Get up earlier: Taking as little as 10 minutes every morning for you can change the entire flow of your day. You may only have a cup of tea, do some yoga, go for a walk or read a book. But that 10 minutes is your time to rejuvenate and set your intentions for the day.
Caring for yourself is not selfish at all, it’s a strategic act of good parenting. We can’t expect to give kids our all, if our tank is empty. The well-being of our children relies on our health, resilience, and the strength of our relationships. Keep your tank full so you have the energy to offer your kids the best of you.
Source: Parent and Teen (2019, March 10). The Parent Sacrifice: Why Self-Care is Important. Retrieved from https://parentandteen.com/invest-in-yourself/