How to Practise Self-care and Be a Parent at the Same Time
If you are a parent, and if you are reading this blog you probably are, you will know that your children can very quickly take priority in your life. Caring for them, making sure they are eating right and feeling happy and socialising and reaching milestones can relegate your personal needs to the back of the pack (and they can stay there for quite some time). So this is just a little reminder that taking a little self-care time is not only ok but essential to keep you at your happy best for the sometimes arduous task of parenting.
Take some ‘Me Time’
This may sound like a ridiculous suggestion when you already feel like there is not enough time in the day to get everything done, and it can be hard to take a break and stop thinking things like “I could be folding the washing or writing a work email”. Spoiler alert, the stuff you need to do isn’t going anywhere, it can wait. So find half an hour, whether it is just after school drop off, in your work lunch break, when the little one is napping and do something that makes you happy. The top tip here is to set the time, say 9.30am and start straight away or you will be unpacking the dishwasher before you know it. So, if it is a quick yoga session, throw your matt down and press play on youtube. Book and a bath? put the taps on and make it happen.
Find Your People
Being a parent, especially a first-time parent can actually be a really lonely time. Sometimes self-care is not about having some time to yourself but spending time with other parents, people who understand the joys and challenges. There are usually quite a few council-based parent groups, so find one in your area and embrace the joy of speaking to other adults. Socialise, swap advice, vent! Whatever makes you feel happy and connected to others. Don’t worry, everyone in your parent group is feeling the same things and it is a great opportunity to make new friends and create a support group of like minded people.
Yes, this seems like a given but taking a few minutes a day to be mindful and focus on the present moment can change your mindset and help you overcome moments of stress and anxiety. Deep breathing exercises that can be done in a few minutes are ideal for when you are short on time but high on stress and they can be done anywhere (though some of the panting techniques may attract attention in a café).
Your exercise routine can be the first thing to fall by the wayside once children come along, with the lack of time and semi-permanent exhaustion it is easy to push it back on the list of priorities. Of course, everyone knows they feel better when they are getting enough exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep (that last one might elude you for a while). The easiest and least expensive way to get moving is to take a walk, take the pram out and meet with a friend if you can. Walking is known to reduce stress and lift your mood, it also gives you a great kick-start to your day. All good reasons to step it out.
Remember, self-care is not a luxury it is the day-to-day equivalent of putting your own oxygen mask on first in an emergency. You take care of yourself, so you can take care of your family. Now that is a pretty good reason.
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