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.