Self-care. It’s the life equivalent of putting on your oxygen mask first so you can “then assist small children”, and it’s actually great parenting advice!
As parents, we are constantly taking care of everything and everyone else. This gig is 24/7, and it’s very easy to forget about our own needs during the flurry of bottles, bathtime and backpacks. We are inundated with meal prep, schedules, and endless piles of laundry. The tyranny of your to-do list is unrelenting and panic-inducing. Oh yeah! And, you have to work on top of it all. HOW?!? Self-care for the working parent can seem unattainable and extravagant.
Here’s the thing. Self-care is not selfish; in fact, getting yourself in balance is one of the best things you can do, and model, for your kids! How can you give everyone in your life 100% if you’re depleted and operating on autopilot? Practicing self-care is NOT about neglecting your kids’ needs. It’s about filling you up as an individual so that you can be fully present as a parent! Starting to get it?!
Genevieve Shaw Brown, mom of three and reporter for ABC News in New York, realized that she fed her kids better than herself, detailed in her book, “The Happiest Mommy You Know: Why Putting Your Kids First Is the Last Thing You Should Do.”
“You can’t just think, ‘Someday soon I’m going to take a day for myself,’ ” she says. “We have to prioritize [ourselves] the same as we would prioritize things for our kids. We’d never miss an appointment for our kids, because they are important. Equally important is prioritizing yourself and your own needs.”
So, where do you start? Self-care doesn’t have to be a fancy spa day or weekend getaway. Of course, that can absolutely be the goal, but realistically, your self-care may start smaller. Baby steps, people! It can be as simple as leaving the dishes in the sink and going to bed 30 minutes early. Remember sleep? Important stuff!
Ready for more? Here are three tips to help you incorporate self-care into your daily routines:
Take advantage of your mornings.
You know the drill…alarm goes off, baby’s crying, kids pile into your bed. Your morning routine has begun, and you are off and running! Instead of starting your day in chaos and strapped for time, try waking up before your kids – an hour, 30 minutes, even 15 minutes – can do wonders! Imagine having time ALONE to enjoy a cup of coffee before it gets cold, shower in peace, or even get a workout in. GAME. CHANGER. You will most likely find a new sense of calm and bliss to take on the day!
It’s important to set limits. According to Aimee Danielson, director of the Women’s Mental Health Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, “say no to things that don’t serve you, say yes to things that are fulfilling and replenishing.” That additional volunteer work at school? Go ahead and say no. But drinks with your best friends? Yes!
Ask for help.
Ask your partner to pitch in more with the kids so you can take a run with the dog and listen to a podcast, or spend quality time with a friend. If you get another adult to play a supportive role in your self-care, it’s more likely that it will become a part of your lifestyle. Who knows, maybe you will inspire them to find their own self-care practice, too!
What kind of self-care practice have you incorporated into your life? We’d love to hear!