Parenting 101: Making Self-Care a Habit

Raising a child isn’t easy. It is definitely a full-time, around-the-clock job! Even if your child attends a preschool or daycare during the day, you can still get overwhelmed with how much work and energy it takes to care for an infant, toddler, or preschooler. We strive to be the best parents that we can be. But being your best is nearly impossible when you are burned out, mentally drained and physically exhausted.

We get tired of picking up the toys, cleaning up the spills, and changing endless diapers while struggling to find time to eat or sleep. Things begin to pile up and we can quickly start to feel stressed and overwhelmed.  Parents devote so much time to caring for their children and often leave little time to care for themselves.

Benefits of Self Care

To be our best, we have to make time to care for ourselves. When we make self-care a priority, we begin to see many improvements in our lives. For instance, we will most likely experience lower stress levels. Good self-care habits such as regular sleep, relaxation, exercise, and eating well have been proven to reduce stress levels. These practices help maintain our emotional, mental, and physical health, helping us manage and prevent stress so we can be the best for ourselves and others.

How to Start Your Self-Care Journey

  1. Put “me time” in your schedule: Alone time is necessary. And something that we often forget to do when young children can command so much of our time. When you mark it down in your calendar, it forces you to take this time more seriously. A good time for this is in the morning when your child is at preschool or daycare, or in the evening when you can find alternative childcare options. What you decide to do during your “me time” is completely up to! You may choose to exercise, go shopping, go to the spa, take a long walk in nature, or any other activity that you find calming or stress-relieving.
  2. Meet with one of your friends: This is especially important if you spend most of your day around children and need an escape. Spending time with other adults without children around can be particularly rewarding. This allows you time to have mature, full-length conversations without having to censor yourself or fear interruption.
  3. Make a journal: Write in your journal for about 20 minutes every day and just let your thoughts flow onto the paper. This is a healthy way to release those feelings that you may otherwise keep bottled up or under the surface.
  4. Set limits: Sometimes we can get stressed because we don’t know how to say ‘no’ to others. Maybe your neighbor keeps asking you to host playdates at your house or you are being pressured to volunteer somewhere. There’s no shame in saying ‘no’ to one or even a few of these requests. Instead of automatically saying ‘yes,’ you can practice saying “Let me think about it” or “I’ll get back to you on that.” It’s best to keep your workload manageable, rather than let things pile up. This will help to avoid feelings of overwhelm.
  5. Download a meditation app: Even if you’ve never meditated in your life and think that its probably not for you, it doesn’t hurt to try. You can download apps that make it easy for you to follow guided meditations on a daily basis. These apps teach you how to meditate and do breathing exercises that can calm your mind and body.

When we take care of ourselves, we show our children that self-care is a priority. We serve as good role models when we lead by example, teaching our children that we value our own health and well-being.

Self-care is important because it helps us unwind after days or weeks of stress. When we feel more relaxed, we can be calmer, healthier, and overall better parents.