Self-Care For Stressed Out Parents: Why It's Important
Being a parent really is one of the most fulfilling yet exhausting jobs ever. You love your kids and you want them to have the best of everything this world has to offer, so that they can succeed in all aspects of life. It can be really hard not to put yourself last as you try to put them first in all that you do, and it can be really tempting to think that sacrificing your own needs is the best way to look after the needs of your children. Selflessness is a beautiful quality to have, but not if it means that you end up suffering as a consequence. Think about it this way: if your mental and physical well-being is compromised, then the extent to which you can care for your kids is compromised as well. In other words, before you can care for your children to the best of your ability, you need to nurture yourself! That's why it's so incredibly important to prioritise self-care as a parent.
The topic of self-care can be a tricky one to navigate however, because even the briefest Google search will come up with a hundred and one ideas that can leave you feeling like there is no way on earth that you can find the time or the energy to juggle parenthood and still go for a 5k bike ride, show up to that yoga class, give yourself that candlelit bath, meditate and then follow it all up with a three course meal at a restaurant. The last thing that you need as a stressed out parent (who possibly already feels guilty for even thinking about taking time out for themselves) is to feel like a failure because your self-care game isn't as strong as Google suggests it needs to be. The good news is that it doesn't have to be as complicated as all of that. The wonderful thing about self-care is that it's all about you, and that means that YOU get to decide.
While it's true that it may take some practice to be able to find the time to spend with yourself, self-care really is as simple as engaging in activities that fill you up. This means that what self-care looks like is inevitably going to be different for everyone! It can be helpful to remember that you are not just a parent, but a human being who needs nurturing on a regular, consistent basis. This means going above and beyond simply making the time to have a shower and calling that self-care, although there are certainly days when this is plenty, this is enough and you're doing amazing!
Think about what makes you feel whole and good about yourself. If you've been struggling to carve out some time for yourself for a long while, it might be a bit of a journey to re-discovering what these things are to you and that's okay. The journey of re-discovering what fills you up is an act of self-care in and of itself, so it really doesn't matter whether or not you feel that you are making progress right from the get-go.
For some, self-care might look like going for a walk. It might be going out for dinner with your partner, or catching up for coffee with a friend. For others, it might mean taking a relaxing bath or going to therapy or counselling. It might mean putting your kids to bed 20 minutes earlier so that you can maybe meditate or read a book for a little while. Self-care might look like dedicating some of your time to something you really want to do, like studying part-time or perhaps even starting your own business as a side-hustle to being a parent. Anything that allows you the space to step outside of your role as a parent and embrace more of the wholeness of who you are as a person is a precious act of self-care, so it doesn't matter how big or small of an act this is, so long as it feels fulfilling to you!
Making sure your emotional, mental and physical needs are met means that you are going to be more grounded, stable and emotionally available for your children. Kids pay attention to what parents do, so it's important to be mindful of what you do around them. When you engage in self-care strategies like seeing your friends, etc., you are giving your kids the healthy example that looking after yourself matters. You are showing them that taking the space to look after yourself makes you a more present and kind person, and they will be likely to follow your example and learn how to look after their own needs and set healthy boundaries in life. So while self-care is ultimately all about nourishing yourself and looking after your own needs, it's the cherry-on-top to know that doing so sets your kids up for self-care success in their own lives!
Do you have any self-care tips and tricks that you've learned on your parenthood journey? I'd love to read about them, so please feel welcome to leave a comment below :)
❤️ Monika Hricko,
Inspire Baby Wear