If you utter the words self-care to a parent, chances are they’ll smile, nod and have a little laugh to themselves in their head. Raising children and supporting a family is tough and for mothers and fathers alike, self-care priorities often slip.
And while you may think this is for the greater good of raising tiny humans, you’re actually doing them a disservice if you are strung out, stressed and spread too thin.
Looking after yourself supports your mental and physical health, making you more resilient and capable of kicking butt as a parent, day to day. And, before you say “I haven’t got time!”, take a read of the below tips, we promise they won’t take up too much of your time and the benefits are worth it.
Prioritise your health
For starters, let’s take things back to basics. You are no good to anyone if you fall ill, so prioritise health check-ups, getting sufficient sleep, eating enough and drinking enough water. These things can easily go awry when parenting, but having them in the forefront of your mind and putting them on the top of your to-do list can make a big difference.
It’s easy to compare yourself to other parents, especially on social media when all we see are the highlights. Remind yourself that this isn’t real life and that everyone makes mistakes. Beating yourself up after every mishap will only destroy your confidence and raise your stress levels.
Instead, take some deep breaths and show yourself some compassion. When you feel calmer, reflect on what you’ve learnt from the experience.
Make yourself laugh
Try and instil a little light-heartedness into your days. Aim to laugh at least once a day and hunt out something guaranteed to make you laugh. This could be a funny meme on Facebook, talking to a friend who never fails to bring a smile to your face or watching a funny TV show.
Listen to your favourite song (and have a five minute dance-party)
This is especially good to do when you’re feeling in a bit of a funk. Get your favourite uplifting song on, grab the family and have a little dance in the kitchen. We so rarely take the time to just let go and be silly.
Join in and colour with the kids
Ask for help
That saying ‘it takes a village’ could not be more true when it comes to parenting. If you’re feeling overstretched and overwhelmed, don’t be ashamed to reach out and ask for help. This could be in practical terms (childcare and general parenting support) and in emotional terms (booking a counselling session to support your mental health).
Take short mindful moments to yourself
If you can’t find time to sit down and meditate (we get it, it isn’t always feasible) try instead to take mindful moments. Set yourself a couple of reminders on your phone to prompt you to take a mindful moment.
When these reminders pop up, take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, become aware of your body and your surroundings and be fully present. Allow your thoughts to gently pass through your mind without giving them the attention you usually do and instead, focus on your breath.