Is self care and having children mutually exclusive? We often think of taking care of ourselves as being child free, away from home, in quiet. But if that is the true definition of self care then most moms and dads are going to get precious little of it.
Self care is really important to parents because it helps maintain a calm demeanor, for longer periods of time. It facilitates more patience. It helps us to not take our frustration out on our children when we are really upset about something or someone else. Self care on a regular basis helps us tune in to the joy and satisfaction of having children, even during overly busy or chaotic days.
Self care helps us remain freer of resentment, exhaustion or feeling depleted. I am sure these are all things you have experienced and you know how damaging they can be to kind and effective parenting. They can be really hard on our relationships with our children. How we are feeling often determines the tone in our home. Self care benefits not only us, but our whole family. It is actually an investment in our family relationships, rather than a selfish indulgence.
When thinking about self care we can look at ways to make that happen when we are in the thick of parenting and also in terms of finding some alone time. Today we’ll take a look at self care when you are home, your kids are home and the general chaos of life is in full force.
Self Care in the Thick of Things
- Make it simple and doable – Self care can be as simple and plain as having a cup of herb tea while you read to
your children. It might be taking some deep breaths while soothing a screaming child. You could turn on your favorite music and dance in the living room with your kids. Add laughter!
- Pay attention to yourself – When you feel like you are on the edge of losing your temper, getting irritable or feeling resentful ask yourself what you need to stay in control. I can still vividly recall what that moment felt like when I was going to stop being the adult. It was almost always when I had pushed myself for too long or was too tired. What I needed was to just STOP. In those younger years I didn’t stop and the result was inevitable. If you find yourself in that place, STOP. Stop working. Sit down. Hug a child. Breathe deeply. Get a drink of water. Walk out to the yard. Do something that will feel nurturing to you.
- Take care of your physical self – Get more sleep. Go to bed a bit earlier even if it means you don’t get that alone time you try to snatch after midnight! Don’t get on the computer after 10pm. Really, this will absolutely help you get to bed earlier! Eat better. Don’t let lunch be the crusts off of your kid’s sandwiches. Don’t eat over the sink. Sit down for goodness sake and eat. It only takes five minutes! Exercise. Learn the difference between mom walks and kid walks and take a healthy measure of both weekly. Think and talk nicely to and about yourself. You would rarely speak to others, even those who are messing up, the way you talk to yourself. Pay attention to what you say and how you say it to yourself and then take the time to re-frame what you say into something more positive, supportive, and true.
- Smell the roses – Stop rushing through the day in order to get your “list” taken care of. Join in your children’s laughter. Smell their hair and skin. Get good at random touches and mini-conversations. Sit on the lawn and listens to your children’s chatter. Take a moment off, even if it is only 5 minutes. It will be enough!
Taking care of yourself does not make you selfish. It shows that you care about yourself and your family relationships. Being kind to yourself in everyday life is one of the best things you can do. Life will become lighter and your relationships will most likely improve. You will feel happier overall. Your self-esteem will go up. You will be a better parent.
An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly. Piper Larsen
How do you care for yourself in the midst of a busy and chaotic day at home? I would love it if you would share.
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