One of the most important things I teach clients is the notion of self care and what that actually looks like. However I feel its even more important if you’re a parent. So what does self care for parents look like?!
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Children are, by their very nature, ego-centric and demanding on our time. Of course they are, their very survival depends on it. We’re the slowest developing of all the mammals and our offspring are with us a very long time!
Yet their wellbeing is also intrinsicly linked to our wellbeing as adults. As the old saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. For children to be able to mature as secure adults with a strong sense of safety in this world they need the same from their parent.
There are other things though which make for an easier transition in to adulthood for them and that’s autonomy, independence and self reliance. So what can you do to ensure your wellbeing is a priority with all these factors to consider?
It’s actually very simple. We model them for our children by doing them for ourselves.
1. Check in with your boundaries
Are you feeling put upon, like a doormat, or like you’re being taken for granted?
I’m totally guilty of this. I carry stuff and tolerate stuff for too long then lose my shit. Having good strong boundaries in the first place can really prevent this kind of escalation.
How can this look when you’re parenting?
Easy. Just lean back.
Don’t pick up all the wet towels.
Don’t wash the PE it if its been chucked on the floor.
Don’t take stuff in to school if the kids have forgotten it for the 10th time.
Children and partners actually have to learn the hard way sometimes. It’s important they have space to step up and show some responsibility.
You can find more info on boundaries here.
2. Have you got a hobby or something you feel passionate about?
It can be so easy to put stuff on hold when you’re a parent. The kids can become the centre of the universe. That’s not what’s healthy for them though if you’re feeling pissed off, resentful and exhausted.
Self care for parents is about connecting to who you were before having kids.
So keep up the hobby’s and interests you had before kids. That goes for both of you if you’re parenting together, whether actually together as a couple or separated and co-parenting.
3. Check your nutrition
If you’re in the habit of eating late after the kids, or grabbing food on the go you can bet your nutrition is suffering. Make it easy on yourself by supplementing and doing superfood smoothies if you have to. Your wellbeing will suffer if you’re not fuelling yourself properly.
If you’re not fuelled well then it’ll impact on your mood, tolerance and energy levels to name a few key things. If like me you have suffered from anxiety then your symptoms will likely go through the roof if you’re deficient in things like magnesium or vitamin D. What does that look like? Agitation, snappiness and general irritability come to mind, and your kids will be on the receiving end of it.
I also pay really good attention these days to my gut health too. My sister is a functional health specialist so I’ve got an easy go to for advice but I boost my nutrition with a prebiotic and probiotic supplement too.
You can find loads of ideas for good nutrition on Pinterest. Check out my page here.
4. Time spent with other adults
Sounds obvious doesn’t it. But connecting with other adults when you have kids is crucial for your wellbeing and theirs. Even more so now that maternity leave is longer than before. Which is wonderful, but you’ll soon go stir crazy if you don’t connect with other adults.
It’s also very important for our intimate partnerships. How many new mums out there feel they have lost the art of conversation with their partner?
I know for me personally I went back to work part time when my son was 3 months old but that was back when maternity leave was 16 weeks. Did I feel guilty? Yes sometimes, in fact you never really lose the mother guilt and even though he’s now nearly 20 there are still plenty of things I wish I’d done differently. However going back to work isn’t one of those things that I reflect on or regret.
As a single parent it was hard sometimes to connect with others but I was lucky that my parents lived locally. I got an evening shift at the local pub for some banter and grown up conversation. It was just enough to keep me on the right side of sane.
If you’re parenting alone and have limited support around you then get to some parent and baby groups. The friendships formed at these type of groups can be there for life.
Self care for parents may look a bit different from when you were single. however it’s actually all the things you should be doing for a healthy connected full life. What’s even more important is you’re setting the benchmark for your kids to learn from.