A Moment for You: Self-Care for Parents
The pace of parenting can be dizzying at times. With hectic days and jam-packed weekends, it can feel like adding another task, even something enjoyable, is impossible.
In the midst of a busy day, it’s easy to scoff at the idea of self-care. Who has the time or the energy? It’s not something you should so easily dismiss, according to health care professionals.
Just as airline passengers are instructed in an emergency to put on their own oxygen masks before helping their children, self-care helps you be your best for those who depend on you.
Signs of Burnout
Not doing so can have serious consequences. Constantly feeling like you’re at your limit creates stress that can accumulate and lead to burnout. Signs you shouldn’t ignore include:
- Decreased energy
- Upset stomach (diarrhea, constipation, nausea)
- Aches, pains, tense muscles
The beauty of self-care is that it helps sustain the best version of you. When faced with a screaming toddler or a moody teen, a parent practicing self-care may find it easier to remain calm, patient and present in that moment. Still, too many parents talk themselves out of taking even a few minutes for self-care. Let’s dispel the most common myths:
Popular Self-care Myths
Myth: Self-care is selfish.
Truth: Self-care can feel like an indulgence but it’s actually a survival skill. To understand the difference between self-care and self-indulgence, focus on the outcome. Self-care recharges and refreshes you. Self-indulgence, on the other hand, doesn’t improve your overall feeling of wellness.
Myth: Self-care takes you away from loved ones.
Truth: Parenting may be about putting children first, but not necessarily all the time. Teaching children that parents have needs, too, is quite healthy. Seeing parents enjoy activities and time with friends is a positive lesson in a healthy lifestyle.
Myth: Self-care can wait until the kids are older.
Truth: Even after kids are out of diapers, parenting continues to challenge the best of us. Chasing energetic toddlers morphs into wrangling risk-taking teens. The sooner you start caring for yourself, the stronger you’ll feel for tomorrow’s challenges.
Myth: Self-care takes too much time.
Truth: It’s true finding time for self-care can be challenging - especially if you don’t make it a priority. Taking just a few moments when they’re most needed can be rejuvenating. Try the following tips for both ideal and quick self-care strategies.
Coffee break with a friend Call or text a friend
Regular exercise Squeeze in a walk or a shorter routine
Meditation Take a few deep, cleansing breaths
Spa day Soak in the tub, splash water on your face
Time in nature Step outside and notice the sounds of the neighborhood
Gratitude journal Think of three reasons you’re grateful
Self-care looks different for everyone. Maybe music works like magic, a team sport raises your spirits or connecting with other parents in person or online calms your rankled nerves. The first step is acknowledging your own needs and the positive power of simply caring for yourself.