Many parents in today’s world feel like they barely have enough time to take care of everyone else. There never seems to be any time left to care for themselves.
Parents may even feel guilty about taking care of themselves. It is critical to remember that taking care of yourself is part of taking good care of your kids. Here are some tips to try to build in self-care as a parent:
• Change your priority list. Where do the things that are just for you fall on your to-do-list? Most likely they are at the bottom. Self-care is not something that should go at the bottom with any time that is left over. It is something that should come first on your list, even if it is just something small every day. You cannot take good care of others if you are not taking any time to care for yourself.
• Celebrate the mistakes and stresses along the way. Life throws a lot of things at us, and we often have no control. Take a moment to accept where you are in life and appreciate yourself. Remind yourself that you will get through this moment and you will figure things out. Sometimes bad things happen. When they do, they are not the end of the world. We will get through them.
• Aim for balance, not perfection. We all try to do too much as parents. But if you commit to too many things, something is bound to fall through the cracks. The joy may also get lost. It is important to choose things that are the most important to you and your family and let some things go.
• Laughter really can be the best medicine. Laugh! Carve out even just a few minutes of time each week to do something that makes you laugh. You know what makes you laugh. Pursue it and enjoy it.
• Add in exercise. There is nothing else that can have such a positive impact on mood. Plus it provides critical health benefits. Find a way to combine things that make you happy with exercise. This will help with motivation. Take a walk with your child while talking about their day. Sign up for that exercise class with your friend you no longer get to see often so you can spend more time together. A healthier and happier you will mean a healthier and happier family.
• Have a space that is just for you. It does not need to be an entire room. It just needs to be a spot that is important to you that is fully your own. Let your family know that sometimes you need to be alone in that space to do what you want. Read a book. Think quietly alone. Watch something online that will make you laugh.
• Ask for help when you need it. It can be very hard to ask for help. It is a skill that you need to practice. Over time you will get better and you will learn who the people are that you can count on and trust in times of need.
• Get as much sleep and down time as you can. When you get enough sleep and down time, you can be more present and positive with your kids. There is a myth that doing nothing is wasting time. It is actually very productive and critical for children. Kids can explore the world at their own pace during down time.
Parents can relax and more fully enjoy the time with their kids when they have nothing planned. Down time can help children and parents to figure out how to create their own happiness and manage their own time. These are two of the most important skills we can learn in life.
For more information, call the Whitley County Cooperative Extension Office at (606) 549-1430; e-mail DL_CES_WHITLEY@EMAIL.UKY.EDU; or visit the office located at 4275 N. Highway 25W in Goldbug.