When my children were young, I don’t know how many times friends would ask, “Are you taking care of yourself?” or “Are you able to have some free time?” In my mind I was thinking, “No! Of course I don’t have time. Who has time when you have young children?”
Nurturing yourself is a basic and very important thing you should do when you have young children. Of course, being there for your children is of upmost importance. But think about it, if you are not physically and mentally healthy, how can you be the best parent you can be?
Think about this analogy……. When flying in an airplane, the flight attendant has a list of guidelines they would like for each passenger to follow. One important bit of information is about the oxygen mask that will fall in front of you in case of a change in air pressure in the cabin. Parents of young children are instructed to place the mask on themselves first before they place the mask on their child. If you are like most parents, your first instinct is to place the mask on your child first, right? But think about it…… you can’t help your child if you are unable to breathe. By placing the mask on yourself first, you are able to help your child.
This relates so well to understanding how self-care can help you in many aspects of parenting your children. If you are stressed and tired for various reasons, then being an effective parent is probably not going to happen. Yes, there are times when our emotions get the best of us, but having a healthy mental and emotional state is almost always an advantage.
So, how can you fit self-care into your busy schedule? Below are a few suggestions. Most ideas will require asking a spouse, friend or family member to watch your child for a short period of time.
- Take a bath – turn on your music and just soak…..add some bubbles…. No tub? Stand in the shower and let the warm water wash away some of that stress.
- Go to your bedroom and listen to music, read a magazine/book or meditate/pray. Even 15-20 minutes can make a big difference!
- Call a friend – being able to vent or just spending some time conversing with a friend can help a person’s mental attitude. An idea might be to not talk about your child and get in touch with what is happening outside your home.
- Take a nap while your child is napping – those dirty dishes and mess in your family room can wait!
- Getting outside to exercise is another good idea. Get those endorphins moving! Even if it is cold, bundle up!
- Grateful Journal – taking time each day is a great way to write down people and situations you are grateful for having in your life.
- Develop a self-care plan – write down ideas you want to incorporate daily into your schedule. Ask a friend to be your accountability partner so you will be more apt to execute your plan.
- Google parks in your area. It would be great fun to go with your children or alone.
These are just a few ideas to consider. I’m sure you will have a few of your own. Don’t wait to start next week, start today! You will be a better parent for it.