As parents, we give everything we have to our children. Taking care of them is our top priority. Often, it comes at the cost of other things. A clean house, vacation days, and trips to the gym sometimes have to be sacrificed. Most of all, the basic principles of self-care get thrown out all too often.
However, it’s important to remember that you can’t give your children the best care unless you’re firing on all cylinders. When we become depressed, fatigued, and overwhelmed, it usually comes out in ways that our children can sense. We may lash out disproportionately at family members, start acting flakey with our obligations to others, and be scattered and stressed all the time.
Learning how to balance parenting with self-care can be a lifelong pursuit. So I decided to share with you 4 essential self-care tips that can help:
1. Stay Healthy
If you get to the point where you have a cough that you can’t shake, you’re so tired that you get chronic headaches, and you can’t keep up with your kids because your body just won’t cooperate, you’ve probably let your health slide for too long.
Usually, when we get really stressed and busy, basic health concerns fall by the wayside. It might seem like a fantasy to be eating three square meals a day, getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night, and being active during the day. However, when those things lag, it becomes a dangerous spiral. Lack of sleep can lead to excess weight gain, which can in turn make it harder to stay active, which just keeps the sick cycle going. All of these factors also affect our mental state, making you feel sluggish, tired, and depressed.
Check out my Top 5 Healthy Weight Loss Tips
You know how rigorous you are about reminding your children to brush their teeth before going to sleep? How determined you are that they get their vegetables at mealtimes? Well, what if you exercised the same kind of discipline on yourself with your health goals?
2. Take Smart Practical Precautions
As parents, some of the biggest stressors arise when we’ve neglected to take smart financial and legal precautions. It was easy to let these things slide when you were single and carefree and your parents were claiming you as a dependent. But now that you’re the grown up, it’s time to show it by getting your affairs in order. What does that mean?
- Understand your tax exemptions and hire someone to help you if it gets complicated. (And as a parent, it often gets complicated.)
- Write a legal will and talk about what your plan is if the worst should happen. In some cases, you might want to also set up a trust or fund to help take care of your children, especially if they have special needs and expenses.
- Build a rainy day fund. It should have three month’s worth of your salary, and be used when emergency costs come up.
Taking practical precautions like this will help you rest easier at night and help guard your family against disasters and unexpected problems.
3. Don’t Play the Guilt Game
It’s so easy to start feeling guilty as a parent. It seems like everyone has opinions about how you should raise your children better. It feels like no matter how much you do, there’s always more that should be done. And when you do let something slide because you finally hit your threshold, you can suddenly feel like you’re under harsh scrutiny from everyone in the vicinity.
This can be especially true when we have special challenges as parents. Maybe your child has behavior challenges, struggles with anger problems, or frustrations in school. Perhaps you’re a single parent and you’re trying to be the breadwinner and homemaker at the same time.
Remember that we’re all just doing our best. There’s no one right way to be a parent, and if your motivation is love, it can’t be wrong. This article has great advice for parents of children with particularly difficult challenges.
4. Set “Me Time” and Don’t Compromise It
When’s the last time you took a bubble bath? What’s the last book that you read just for fun? When did you last spend time alone with your spouse?
A common term used in the business world is “burnout.” It’s a natural reaction to overwork, especially for workers who tend to take projects home and work much more than 40 hours a week. The symptoms of burnout include chronic fatigue, anger, anxiety, apathy, irritability, and isolation. Sounds like just another day as a parent, doesn’t it? Employers know that if their employees are experiencing burnout, they need to take a break and find new stimulation in order to be effective and happy. If you were your own boss (in your job as a parent) what would you recommend for yourself in order to counter the symptoms of burnout?
You’d probably prescribe a vacation, or at least closer adherence to lunch breaks. Set time aside for yourself as a person, and don’t let it slide! Prioritize it as a measure that you’re taking in order to be a better parent.
Where do you get your “me time”? What are some of your self care tips? Share below!