Why Self-care makes you a better parent
“The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.”
Parenting. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster ride. With the sleepless nights, the worry, the tantrums, the mess, the strain on your finances, the change in your relationships, the constant requests for snacks and the never-ending laundry pile, parents have a lot on their plate. Quite often we don’t have time to drink a cup of coffee, never mind practice self-care.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
But if we don’t take care of ourselves, how are we supposed to have the energy to look after our family? Self-care is a way to recharge your batteries, rest your mind and give yourself space your need to restore your body. Exhaustion, stress, anxiety, worry, these things all inhibit our ability to take care of our responsibilities. Looking after yourself; eating right, sleeping enough and meeting your personal needs, is a strategy to help you to be a more efficient and effective member of your family.
“Once you sign on to be a mother 24/7 is the only shift they offer”
When you’re busy looking after other people, it can be hard to stop and think about what you need to look after yourself. But signs that you need to take some self-care time include:
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Headaches, dizziness, stomach upset
- Feeling unsafe, unhappy, guilty, vulnerable, anxious or lonely
- Difficulty concentrating
- Becoming withdrawn or irritated or having crying or angry outbursts.
“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions it is our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.”
Being a mother is not just having the energy to get stuff done. It’s about communicating with your child and teaching them how to deal with life. We are our children’s emotional regulator, which means that when they are overwhelmed, frustrated, angry or sad, we need to be able to manage our own emotions to help them cope with theirs. When you are burned out from running around after others, it can be hard to deal with a tantrum or a melt-down in a calm and rational way. Exhaustion brings our own emotions closer to the surface, so it’s much easier to lose it, even when you know it’s not the answer. Taking time for self-care gives us the break we need so that we have better reserves of mental energy and can deal with difficult situations when they arise.
“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”
Children are great imitators, so it’s important that we give them something great to imitate. Every time you interact with your children, to speak to them, to correct them, to help them, they are learning to be just like you. So if you want to raise strong, independent calm children, you have to project a strong, calm and independent persona. Self-care is a vital part of being able to do that.
“In the end, I’m the only one who can give my children the happy mother they deserve.”
Raising children is one of the most joyful, rewarding experiences anyone can have. They don’t stay small forever, so it is important to be able to enjoy the time you have with them; their excitement at new things, their curiosity about the world, their belief that you are the most perfect human being to ever walk the earth (this is short-lived, so enjoy it while you can!). But enjoying those moments is difficult when you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed and exhausted. You owe it to yourself to give yourself the best chance to soak up and fully experience this wonderful time. Self-care affords you that opportunity, it is a key ingredient in giving you time to take stock of your life, recharge your batteries and realize how grateful you are for what you have.
At the end of the day, a lot of the stress and anxiety that comes with parenting is about being the best parent we can be. We want to be there for our children and we want to give them the best life that we can. Self-care can help us do this, it is an essential tool in being a great parent. So, give yourself a chance, take some time that’s just for you. It might be called me-time, but it will benefit the whole family. If you’re struggling to find the time or energy to focus on yourself, take a look at our other blogs this month, we’ve got great ideas and hacks that can help you to find the time you need to practice self-care.
Parenting is a wonderful time, you can’t enjoy it if you’re exhausted/stressed all the time.
Spend some time on self-care to make sure that you can cope and that you enjoy your time with your kids.