Self-Care For the Busy Parent
Self-care is important for all people. However, many parents become so focused on their children’s needs that they neglect to take adequate care of themselves. Trying to find time is probably the biggest reason why, while financial, guilt about not spending enough time with children, or other reasons sometimes also contribute to limited self-care.
Here are some practical suggestions to help improve your self-care:
- Pick one activity a week that you enjoy and figure out how to make time to do that. Examples include playing tennis, golf, grabbing coffee with a friend, or seeing a movie. If you need someone to watch your children, hire a babysitter, arrange playdates, or schedule these activities while your children have after school or other activities and would be busy anyway.
- Make sure you are eating healthy. If it is hard to find time to cook during the week, cook on weekends for the week, prepare ingredients the night before for easy preparation in the evening, buy ready to serve fresh meals, or sign up for meal delivery services.
- Make sure you are getting regular physical activity. If you like using the gym, see if you can find time before your children get up, before work, after work, during the work day, or at another time to work out regularly. At minimum, try to get walking in, even if it’s done while you are waiting for your children to finish a given activity.
- Make sure you spend what you feel to be enough time with your children while you are fully present with them. This means that you should limit the amount of time you are using your phone, sitting in a common area with a laptop doing work, or engaging in other tasks while they are available to interact with. If you have to do work when your children are around, set time limits and let your children know when you will be able to stop working to spend time with them. Alternatively, block out a specific period of time and do work in another room, especially if you will be more productive and be able to finish faster to spend time with your children.
- Negotiate times with your spouse where they will watch your children alone to allow you time to do things that you need to do. Be flexible and try to compromise. For instance, if your spouse wants to play tennis after work on Tuesdays, see if their schedule permits to drop the children off at school on Thursdays so that you can have a regular standing coffee appointment with a specific friend.
- Make sure to spend quality time with your significant other fully engaged. This means setting aside time to talk about your day or things in general, and limiting time on your phone when spending time alone. Even if you have an hour before bed, thirty minutes during the middle of the night if having to wake up to feed a new born, or other random time available, take full advantage of it. Also, try to go out at least a few times a month for dates, which will help maintain and further develop your romantic relationship, which is important.
If you are taking the best care of yourself possible, you are going to be better able to take the best care of your children possible. If you need assistance improving your self-care, consider seeking out a therapist for individual/couples therapy, nutritionist, joining a gym, taking a yoga class, joining a support group for parents, or finding another avenue as appropriate to improve your overall well-being.
Copyright 2015 Carey A Heller, Psy.D.
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*Disclaimer: The previous information is intended as general guidance based on my professional opinion, does not constitute an established professional relationship, and should not replace the recommendations of a psychologist or other licensed professional with whom you initiate or maintain a professional relationship*