The Importance of Self-Care in Parenting, and How you can Make Time for It

The command post behind the lines of a traditional war tended to be well stocked with good food and dry clothes. The reason for this isn’t because the command was selfish, or they felt they deserved it. It was because, if they were to suffer from low morale, then the entire war effort would suffer. The leaders making the major decisions needed to be at their very best at all times.

The same could be said of parenting. Parents are the commanders of the household. Chances are that you’re left run down by your children. The thought of good food and dry clothes is just a pipe dream to you.

When this happens to you, how do you think the little troops (your children) will do? If you aren’t doing well, then your children aren’t either. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. It’s actually an important thing to do for the kids. Parents always feel guilty and have anxious feelings if they take a break from their families, but taking some time for yourself leaves you energised and ready to get back to doing what parents do best. Trying a blend of restful essential oils could do just the trick.

It’s very demanding to have to maintain the daily life in a home. It doesn’t leave you much in the way of time to have fun, relax, and just have a bit of downtime. You get burned out pretty quickly when you’re always on and waiting on your children. It leaves you feeling like everything is a chore. This is why you should start taking a regular day off. It could be asking your partner to take a day off from work to spend time with the kids, getting a family member to look after them for you, or even hiring a sitter for them. I know a couple who take days off and hit the golf course while there son is in school. What matters isn’t what you do, but that you do it.

I gave the idea a try myself after listening to a podcast about burnout and discouragement. I’m juggling a lot of things in my house. I stay at the house with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old with ADHD, and I find myself writing while the kids sleep. My husband is in the US Army Reserves, drilling one weekend a month and for two weeks during the summer. He also works a regular job, working nights and weekends. He’s been deployed before, and we know it could happen again.

I told my husband I wanted to take one day a month off to myself. The first time I took a day off, I went out for a drive and explored a new town and the shops there. I was visited by my cousin the next month, and we went dancing. I felt a little too old for it, but she reminded me of how much I love dancing. I did have to take an electrolyte drink to keep up with her though. There was one month when I didn’t take a day off because my husband was out of town all month on a work assignment. Looking back, I really needed that day off.

Parents often miss the days off that they really need to take, whether it’s because their spouse has been deployed, someone died, or they’re going through a divorce. When there is extra stress involved it quickly drains you and leaves you vulnerable to developing l health issues . Make sure you sleep, eat, and move. Remember that you are the linchpin that keeps the family running. They need you.

So, what should you do when you take a day off? You should do something rejuvenating. Perhaps you could try on clothes ready for next season without the kids making you rush. Perhaps you could have a nice workout and then relax with a book in a coffee shop. Or perhaps taking a spa day with a friend is just what the doctor ordered.

What the doctor did not order is errands. You shouldn’t be trying to find a dry cleaner or a repairman during your day off, but there’s nothing wrong with leisurely picking up the groceries on the way home.

Studies show that anticipating a vacation is often just as psychologically rewarding as the vacation itself. This is a process known as “nexting”. You are left energised and ready for action when you know that you’re close to relief and relaxation.

Just think about having a day off for yourself. You should prioritise for yourself the same way you prioritise for your kids. You wouldn’t let your kids miss an appointment because of how much they mean to you. You need to prioritise your own needs just as much.

To help you feel better about taking a day off, remember that you aren’t doing something you used to do before you had kids. You’re regrouping and giving yourself a bird’s eye view of your life. Is there anything you should change?

Myself and a friend put down all of our responsibilities in the form of a stay-at-home-mom job description. Since then we’ve been looking at these responsibilities and tweaking them. Is there anything we could take out or add in, for the benefit of our kids, ourselves, and our house? It’s during my days off I think about these things.

All too often I fall into the trap of believing not being around my kids means I don’t love them. The truth is that I can lose the energy it takes to play with them when I’m worn out. I’m bored at the prospect of taking a walk, and I start snapping at them for being kids. You wouldn’t let some tired, run-down babysitter look after your kids. So why would you look after them in that state?

Here are five great ways you can re-energize:

  • Learn to Say No

You’ll lose less energy when you set limits on what you will and won’t do. Learn to say no to doing things that don’t serve you, and say yes to the things that replenish and fulfil you. It’s fine to say no when asked to do more volunteer work at the school, and say yes to having a dinner with friends.

  • Get Counselling

Don’t think it’s too soon to get help, whether you need help with a long-term issue, or something that recently happened in your life as a parent.

  • Get a New Hobby

Taking up a new hobby such as knitting, cooking, or even martial arts, is great. Not only does it benefit you but it sets a great example for the kids too. They’ll be more interested in trying new things if they see you doing it.

  • Set Goals

Give yourself a long-term goal to work towards – such as running 10 miles. That way you encourage yourself to make time each week to practice. This time is a great way to replenish.

  • Ask for Some Alone Time

Many women feel like they could do with a bit of solitude. Introverted people need different things from extroverted people to relax and refresh. Ask your partner if they can take the kids out for a bit to give you some alone time in the house.

  • Take Time With your Partner

You should take some time away with your partner whenever you get the chance to. If you can’t go away for a day or two, then just try to meet up for lunch. This gives you some alone time to focus on each other. Don’t underestimate the power of taking a break with your parenting partner. It’s good for you, your kids, and your relationship.

Military Parenting is Great!

The children of military parents have got opportunities that civilian kids never get!

Think about it. Military parents get to take their kids all over the United States as they are stationed for different assignments.

Do you know how many military camps in the United States are located within ten miles of the Atlantic Ocean? Twenty-one! And how many are located within ten miles of the Pacific Ocean? Sixteen!

Florida alone has got over two dozen military bases, where families can have fun in the sun all year round!

Military parents should definitely take their kids out on a family trip at least once a month. Even if you’re stationed in Minot, North Dakota, you aren’t stuck in the middle of ‘nowhere’. You’re within a hundred miles of the beautiful Turtle Mountains and the International Peace Garden at the Canadian border.

If you’re stationed in Tupelo, Mississippi, you can take your kids to the Tupelo Pony Races, held every year from May to September. Or rent a cabin on Lake Spencer to fish for the local ‘chaw daddies’ and whiskered catfish.

Get the idea? Wherever you and your family are stationed you’ll find interesting places to visit if you take the time and trouble. And then you’re kids will always have something to remember that can never be matched in a civilian family!

Post 911 Military Parenting

Military parents have a special duty to care for their children in a world that is becoming more and more threatening in many respects.

To do this, they need to cultivate a positive attitude that is sincere and coherent. Children are like mirrors, say psychologists; they reflect whatever they see, hear, or feel. While dealing with terrorists is now part of our military world, military parents must make sure that this constant state of alert does not become upsetting to their children.

This can be done mostly by attitude adjustments. No one should run around laughing and grinning all the time. But neither should they be constantly depressed or afraid. Prudent diligence is called for; and once that is established, it’s time to get back to having fun with your children; teaching them about life from your own experience; loving and hugging them just because they’re your kids, and for no other reason!

Try to fit just one more smile into your busy military life today. Spend just one more minute with your children at the beginning or the end of the day. Take one more opportunity to tell them you love them today.

It’s one of the best strategies we have to beat the terrorists!  

Using the New Parent Support Program

The New Parent Support Group is a military program for all military personnel who are pregnant and their spouse. It has its roots back in World War Two, when military authorities realized that young couples thrown into the maelstrom of war needed help in understanding their duties and responsibilities when it came to fostering new life.

Today the program is available at every major American military installation, and in places where it is not physically on site its programs and personnel can be accessed over the internet.

One of the most important aspects of the program is that helps new military parents find local support networks for things like medical care, post partum depression, financial counseling, breastfeeding, and other challenges that are unique to new parents.

Perhaps the most vital benefit of the New Parent Program is that it lets new parents in the military know that they are not alone, and that their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs can be met by trained experts who are just a few blocks away, or an email or phone call away.

To find the nearest New Parent Program to you, just go to Military Installations Locator and use the drop down menu to go to the New Parent Support Program.

Discipline for the Military Child

The military is all about discipline. One of the first things a soldier or sailor or marine learns in boot camp is to obey orders, instantly and without question.

But with children, it’s a different situation altogether! Their young minds are not yet ready to process very much information at once. So when you tell them to wash their hands before dinner, all they may understand is that it’s time for dinner. So they show up at the table with unwashed hands.They are not being disobedient; they are only being kids!

To help them understand discipline, it’s important to use repetition and echo. Repeat your request, calmly, for them to wash their hands first, and then ask them to repeat what you just told them to do. Praise them for being able to repeat an order, even a simple one. Once you establish this as routine, your children will become comfortable with it and learn to respond somewhat like a soldier or sailor by doing it (sometimes after a bit of prodding!) and without asking too many questions (don’t expect miracles!)

Military Families and Holiday Traditions

 

Parenting in the military is always a challenge, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well, with a lot of fun and good memories to go along with it!i

With the holidays so near, it’s a good idea to work together to create some special traditions and memories for your children. Instead of focusing on a family member who has to be away for the holidays or the dangers and distractions of the military lifestyle, gather all the family members together for projects to help others at this time of year.

Gather food on your base for a local food shelf. Collect gently used blankets, mittens, hats, scarves, and purchase hygienic supplies like toothpaste, toothbrushes, and bars of soap, and  for a local homeless shelter. Make this a family holiday tradition for your children and they’ll soon be more excited about the warm feeling that comes from helping others than their delight in their own presents!

Helping Your Children Accept Deployment

Military families are called upon to make sacrifices that ordinary families never have to deal with.

One of the biggest challenges faced by military families is the constant possibility of deployment overseas, to be stationed somewhere that is too dangerous or inconvenient for your other family members.

This can be traumatic to military children if they are not educated and prepared for such an eventuality.

Don’t paint a picture of deployment as a difficult and tragic time for your family. Instead, encourage your children to be proud that they have a parent who is trusted enough by Uncle Sam to go overseas to help others in distress and protect our country’s safety.

Make sure your children know that you will not disappear completely from their lives once you are deployed. You’ll be able to write to them, email them, and probably even Skype to them as circumstances permit. Depending on the type and length of your deployment, you may even be granted family leave from time to time to come home and be with them. Assure them that the time will go by faster if they remain as positive about deployment as you are.

Educating Your Military Teen about Substance Abuse

 

The military has a traditional image as a hard fighting, hard drinking bunch. While everyone understands that this is pretty much just a Hollywood cliche, there are still too many cases of substance abuse in our armed forces.

This is certainly a challenge for parents raising a teenager in the military. Your first line of defence is to always keep channels open with your teenager(s). If they feel comfortable telling you about the stress and peer pressure they feel to use recreational and addictive substances you in turn can assure them that those pressures can be counteracted without becoming totally ‘uncool’.

Of course, if you yourself use tobacco, alcohol, or other recreational substances, you’ve got a tough row to hoe when it comes to convincing your teenager not to experiment. You have an obligation to your children to discontinue such unhealthy practices. At least show them you are trying to do so.

No matter what, it’s always going to be your example that is strongest in their minds and memories as they struggle to establish themselves in this challenging world we live in

Money Management for Military Teens

Military parents know that until they reach the upper ranks of command, the salary of a service man or woman remains modest and needs to be budgeted carefully.

This is especially true when there are teenagers in the house. They need to be taught the importance of wise money management to avoid the inevitable conflict that results when there’s too much month at the end of the money.

One of the best ideas for teaching military teens the importance of smart money management is to help them find part-time employment when they reach the appropriate age.

Help them set up their own savings and checking accounts once they have a job, so they can have their wages automatically deposited. This is a huge step for most teen, to have money in the bank instead of in their pockets where it inevitably starts burning a large hole.

Be patient with them; they’re bound to make some mistakes and go a little wild with those first few paychecks. But as they discover the consequences of poor money management, they’ll gradually learn the right way to use their hard-earned dollars to make their lives better — if not Rock Star glam!

 

Children and Religion in the Military

It’s important for your child to feel a sense of belonging while you are serving your country in the military.

Service men and women can take advantage of many different types of organizations to build relationships and a sense of belong, any of which can be a positive influence in military parenting.

But perhaps one of the most important decisions you will make as a military parent concerns the religious upbringing of your child. Studies show that children who identify with a specific religious group feel more secure and stable than those whose parents do not have any specific religious affiliation.

So give this some serious thought as you raise your children. If your parents had a religious affiliation, do you want to follow them? Or do you feel the need to explore other religions? Even if you are an agnostic, remember that your children are born with a sense of wonder and awe at the world around them — talk to one of your base chaplains to find a religious organization that can serve both your needs as an adult and your children’s innocent desires.

The Importance of Routine for Children

Sometimes military parents wonder if the massive amount of routine that they are subject to in their duties should be reflected at all in their children’s lives.

The answer is, yes; children do better when they are encouraged and trained to follow a set routine in daily life. Perhaps not to the extent of an adult member of the military, but certainly child experts agree that children grow confident and more creative when some routine is introduced into their lives starting at an early age.

Some simple routines to establish for children are:

Bedtime.

Hand washing before each meal.

Scheduled time reserved for family activities.

Household chores.

Doctor and dental checkups.

One of the biggest helps in establishing routines with your children is to map it all out on a large calendar that can then be put on the refrigerator door or some other open space. That way your children identify their name (usually the very first thing they learn to spell) with assigned routines that they know are their responsibility.

And finally, always make sure you praise your children for following the routines that are set for them. Make them feel it’s important and pleasing to you when they follow through on routine. That will help build an ingrained desire to have routines throughout the rest of their lives.