Self Care for Parents

Self Care is a buzz word at the moment, where ever you turn people are telling you how to do it their way. Where does self care fit into your day, week or month? Or are you so far from self care that you are wondering what an earth I am talking about?

In a time where being busy has become the normal, do you make time for you? In the early years of being a parent, self care or perhaps better termed me-time does not appear to register on most parents radars, simply because they are so busy bringing up their children or perhaps surviving sleep deprivation and the wonders of tantrums, then once you get through this you are into the world of tweens and teens. Self Care, what self care!?

The question is how can we fit some self care into our days that are already potentially filled with work, being our children’s taxi to clubs, cooking meals, volunteering and emotions?

I have come to believe now my daughter is 9 and having tried many options to put myself first and suffering the consequences when I didn’t. That it is more about being present, some say employing mindfulness, such as; drinking a coffee while it is still hot, or listening to or reading a book while your baby naps on you. It also does not need to be a big event, a bath, a hug, remembering to breathe, can help greatly.

Here is my quick guide full of ideas of how to bring more self care into your life:

  • Look at your day, week, where are the pockets of time that could be used? Can you put your phone down more and be more present? Get up a few minutes earlier? Stop watching TV in the evening until so late? Give time allocations to your commitments, including sleep and what you need to get done in the week, are all 24 hours in your day taken up with ‘stuff’ or is there wiggle room?
  • Diarize it, simple as that, look at your diary for the week and book a date with yourself, whether it be a bath, a catch up with a friend or a sporting commitment. Mark it in, in a different colour so it stands out and gives you something to look forward to. Make it a non-negotiable and bar an emergency it IS going to happen.
  • Work out what brings you joy, what do you think about in quiet moments, what makes you jealous when you see others doing it? Brain storm ideas: Being out in nature? Learning a language? Visiting a museum or art gallery? An exercise or sporting club? Learning a skill? Crafting? Laying down in a darkened room! Once you have identified it, how can you incorporate this into your week?
  • Have fun: What makes you laugh or happy? Is it playing with your kids or date night with your partner? Be intentional and do it.
  • Personal Development: this does not need to consume your day, 5-10 minutes to read a chapter of a book or a blog post, or to listen to an inspiring talk or an audio book while out walking the dog.
  • Put on music that lifts you up or calms you down. Dance around the kitchen, have a dance party with the kids, or sit and let the music wash over you.
  • Meditation: this is a personal favourite for me, especially as I always believed I did not have the time, or my mind would not be still enough to get the benefit. If this is something new for you, then I recommend getting an app or seeking out something on YouTube that can help guide and teach you in the early days.
  • Exercise: whether it is yoga or walking, skiing or running, exercise is about moving your body daily to help your over all well being.
  • Doing nothing: this is completely within everyone’s grasp, 5 minutes of sitting, laying down and doing nothing, bliss!

For self care to work, it needs to be made a priority, set your self a 21 day challenge, decide on one thing that will make you feel like you have put yourself first, and start, do it every day for 21 days no matter what and see how you feel as a result.

This article was originally printed in Small Talk Magazine March/April 2018 Issue.

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