Are You Making This Common Parenting Mistake? Find Out Now!

Are You Making This Common Parenting Mistake? Find Out Now!

Parenting? Rewarding, fulfilling, EXHAUSTING! It's filled with so much joy, love, and of its own share of stress and strife. We cherish every moment with our little ones, and of course want to be the best parents we can be. It's not always easy, but it's always worth it! But sometimes, we forget to take care of ourselves in the process. Our own self-care is firmly on the backburner to make sure the needs of our children are always met. A parent that looks after themselves occasionally, is going to be a better parent than one that is never able to! Today’s post will dive into why self-care is so crucial for parents. We’ll give you some tips to improve self-care, and some more to help you battle the parent-guilt that comes with prioritizing yourself.

The Impact of Neglecting Self-Care

How many times have you wrangled your kids into their seats, served dinner, and done the dishes before realizing you never fed yourself? Putting yourself last leads to feeling drained and overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally. Taking care of ourselves is just as important as taking care of our kids! Neglecting ourselves can lead to burnout, increased stress, and a decreased sense of self outside of our role as a parent. Choosing to make time for yourself isn’t selfish. To be the best parent you can be, it’s actually a requirement. By prioritizing yourself when you can, you’ll be able to give your children the best of yourself. 

The Connection Between Self-Care and Effective Parenting

Taking care of yourself isn’t just nice and relaxing; though it should feel that way! By taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to be a better parent, and create a better environment for your kids.You’ll also be teaching your children the valuable lesson that being healthy involves taking care of our own needs.

Practical Self-Care Strategies

  1. Carve Out "Me Time": Set aside regular blocks of time to take care of yourself. Whether you want to read a book, go for a walk, enjoy a hobby, or take a break to pamper yourself, give this time the same importance you give your other tasks.
  2. Nurture Your Physical Well-being: Get moving! Physical exercise is great for stress relief, your heart, and will also mean you can keep up with your children no matter when they decide to bolt!
  3. Seek Emotional Support: Talking it out with a friend, other parents who have been through it before, or a professional can give you a lot of support and a new outlook.  
  4. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: It can be easy to roll your eyes and dismiss mindfulness and meditation, but even just taking 5 minutes a day to sit somewhere quiet and reflect on things you’re grateful for can help. 
  5. Engage in Activities That Bring You Joy: Find the things that make you happy and make sure you do them often! Learn a new skill, go see a band you enjoy, or join a local sports team.

Modeling Self-Care for Children

Children learn best by observing, and as their parent, you're their most important example of behavior. When you make caring for yourself a top priority, you not only help yourself, but also show your children how to love and care for themselves, which is an invaluable lesson. Here are some ways to set a good example when it comes to self-care.

  1. Involve Them in Your Self-Care Routines: When you’re planning to do a self-care activity, every once and a while include your children. Spend time showing your toddler how you apply sunscreen in the morning, bring the kids along to your team’s soccer game, or just let them see you making the effort to take care of yourself.
  2. Encourage Open Communication: Sit down with your children and tell them about the concept of caring for themselves. Introduce them to the idea that they have feelings and needs, and that taking care of yourself can help with those. If your kids are younger, try using the concept of ‘simple’ needs, “When you feel thirsty, you can get yourself some water. That’s one way you can care for yourself.” Encourage your children to think about things or activities they can do that would help them feel better when they’re stressed or upset.
  3. Set Boundaries: Once you’ve convinced yourself of the need for self-care, sit with your children and teach them the concept of personal boundaries. By setting limits and establishing boundaries, your kids will see the value of giving themselves space and care. 
  4. Highlight the Benefits: Show your kids the effects of self-care. Come back from your self-care activities with high energy, let them know what a good mood doing the things you enjoy puts you in. It will help to reinforce the idea that self-care is not only good for you, but also good for them! “Mom/Dad are so fun when they’re nice to themselves!”

Overcoming Challenges and Guilt Around Self-Care

Any parent will struggle while trying to balance their own needs with those of their children. It's so easy to feel guilty about taking time for yourself, but please remember that self-care is vital to your own wellbeing. Even if it's simply enjoying a cup of coffee in peace, it'll help you be a better parent to your children in the long-run. Acknowledge any challenges that may arise when setting out on your self-care journey, and face them head on. Here are some helpful strategies so that you can navigate the guilt and challenges that come with eking out more self-care for yourself:

  1. Reframe Your Perspective: Realize that taking care of yourself is not an act of selfishness but rather an essential part of being a supportive parent. Recognise that taking care of yourself enables you to provide better care for your children and that this is a necessary condition for doing so.
  2. Release Guilt: Let go of any feelings of guilt that come along with putting your own needs first. Remind yourself that you need to take care of yourself and doing so is in everyone's best interest, including your children's.
  3. Create a Supportive Network: Put yourself in the company of other parents or friends who understand the need for self-care and make it a priority in your life. Discuss your past experiences, hints, and challenges with one another, and provide each other with support.
  4. Delegate and Ask for Help: You shouldn't be scared to seek assistance or delegate responsibilities to others. Accepting help, whether it be with dishes and laundry, or babysitting, enables you to free up more time for you to have a break.
  5. Practice Self-Compassion: Give yourself some grace! Being a parent is hard, and it’s beyond normal to have moments of insecurity or overwhelm. Treat yourself with the same empathy you’d give your children. 
  6. Learn Tips and Tricks: Spend some time learning ways to make your job as a parent easier. Self-care can be as easy as taking a child psychology course online, to help you understand your kid’s development and behavior, or watching YouTube videos with parenting hacks.

Building a Supportive Network

Building a team of other parents who ‘get it’ will be the best thing you ever did for yourself.. Here are some ideas for building a solid support team:

  1. Connect with Other Parents: Making friends as an adult is hard. Signing up for groups, luckily, is quite easy! Try local meetups, or participating in parenting groups online where you interact with other parents to share experiences and advice. Talking about it can help you feel more supported and lighten your mental load.
  2. Utilize Family and Friends: If you’re lucky enough to have family nearby, see if they would be happy to help out with childcare on occasion. It’s great for your kids to have family time, and it can be great for mom/dad to have some time to themselves. If you have friends with kids of a similar age, offer to help them. Pass it forward and before you know it, you’ll have a stronger support network than you thought possible.  
  3. Consider Professional Help: If you're having feelings of overwhelming stress or anxiety, don't be afraid to seek expert assistance. Therapists, counselors, and support groups can offer advice and a secure place to share your problems.
  4. Prioritize Quality Time: Make time to connect with your loved ones in meaningful ways. Activities that deepen your bond, such as family outings, game evenings, and meaningful hobbies can improve your mood and remind you of the joys of parenthood.

Putting it into Practice

It seems obvious that making self-care a priority as a parent is a must. Not only for the positive effects it'll have on you, but also for the example it sets your children. Not to mention, it actually makes you a better parent. By recognising the connection between self-care and effective parenting, implementing practical strategies, modeling self-care for your children, and building a supportive network, you can overcome challenges and guilt and create a positive impact on your overall well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish, it's necessary.