Parents spend a lot of time and energy helping their children learn and grow. By the end of the day of meeting the needs of others (children, partner, colleagues, neighbors) you may not have much energy left for yourself. Taking care of yourself is not a luxury. It is a necessary, conscious, mindful strategy. In the busy-ness of your life it is more likely to happen if it is planned and scheduled up front. Filling your own cup first leaves you with more love and energy for yourself, your children and the other important people in your life. Some ideas:
- What do you already do? Think about the ways that you already take care of yourself. Do you walk, meditate, listen to music? Or do you try to deny or ignore stress, procrastinate and avoid situations that are challenging? Reflect on what you might want to add or change.
- Go for variety. Realize that self-care activity will work for all stressors. Find and practice a variety of tools. Plan for self-care that nurtures your body, mind and spirit: paint, do a craft, join a yoga or Zumba class, listen to music, connect with nature, walk your dog, watch a game, join a sports team, fix something.
- Gratitude practice. Spend time each day noticing what you are grateful for. Research shows that this changes your brain.
- Notice strengths. Make a list of your child’s strengths and what you love about your child. On those days when your children are pushing your buttons, go back to that list. Remember who they really are when they are feeling better.
- Ask for and accept help when you need it.
- Pay attention to your own needs. Practice saying ‘no’ when appropriate.
- Pay attention to your body’s needs. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, hydrate and eat healthy foods. Allow yourself a treat now and then.
- Be gentle with yourself. Ease up on expectations, especially of yourself.
- Be aware of your self-talk. Make sure it includes noticing what you did well. “I helped my neighbor”, “I handled that well”, or “I did my best”. Ask your inner critic to not work overtime.
A final thought. If you find yourself shouting, maybe you are shouting for help. Take care of yourself!