Parents are very sacrificial people. They give up a lot for their kids–sleep, time, energy, money, comfort–and they seldom ask for anything in return.
While raising three kids who played sports all year round, my husband and I sacrificed a lot for them. And there were days when I almost forgot who I was, besides being a mom who taxied her kids everywhere, fed them, washed their clothes, made their lunches, and went to all their games.
Sacrificing for your kids is pretty much a parental instinct. But there’s a downside to getting too wrapped up in providing and protecting your kids and it’s this: it’s easy to get lost in their lives and forget that taking care of yourself has got to be a priority too. If you are not tending to your own body and soul, you will not be the only ones who suffer from that neglect; your kids will too.
You should NOT feel guilty for taking the time and energy to do things that are good for you. Give yourself permission to make time for these important tasks:
Feed Your Soul.
What refreshes you? Strengthens you? Encourages you? These are the things that feed your soul. They make you feel content, relaxed and they just fill you up. For me, it’s time with my grown kids, who live in three separate locations. When we all gather together, even if it’s just on zoom, it thoroughly feeds my soul.
The beach, taking a spin on the boat and relaxing outside after dinner with my husband also feed my soul. In these moments, I take a deep breath and just live in the moment. Living in the moment refreshes the soul and a fed soul gives me the courage and strength to get through my day.
Whatever feeds your soul, make time for it. Whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour, give it to yourself. You not only deserve it, you NEED it to be a calm and stress-free parent.
Challenge Your Mind.
If you are working outside the home, chances are pretty good that your mind is being challenged by your job. If not, or if you are a stay-at-home parent, it’s important to not let your mind get lazy. It can turn kinda mushy after watching too many reality shows or taking care of little ones all day. In fact, it’s easy to forget that you are more than a feeding machine or a taxi driver when you are busy with kids.
To avoid the mush-mind syndrome, carve out time to challenge your mind. Whether it’s reading a non-fiction book, listening to a podcast, taking an online class, or learning a new hobby, keep your mind-muscles strong by taking on things that force you to think and push yourself.
Take care of your marriage/family/friendships.
If you are married, it’s important to not let the kids push that relationship into the background. Many marriages fail because the parents neglect their time together and when the kids are grown, they look at each other and say, “who are you?”
Be intentional. Have consistent date nights. Do not feel guilty leaving your kids for a romantic getaway. The health of your marriage affects the health of your entire household.
If you are single, it’s important to work at those few relationships that sustain you. Whether it’s family or a close friend, nurture that friendship because you need it to keep you grounded.
Parents find it way easier to say NO to their kids than they do to others who ask them to volunteer or help out. And just about every parent I talk with KNOWS they need to say no more often, but they still struggle with it.
If you take time to list your top 4-5 priorities, it will guide you in how to respond to requests that will take your time and energy. If what they ask of you does not align with those priorities, you should absolutely feel free to kindly decline.
When I suggested to a group of parents recently that they should have a “village” to help them raise their kids, one mom balked. “I don’t need help with my kids. It’s just me and I’m doing just fine.”
But as we talked, she became aware that there actually are other important adults in her kids’ lives. For her it was a close friend, and in the future, she acknowledged that it could be a teacher or coach.
Parents need support from family, friends, and other adults in their kids’ lives because the job of parenting is demanding, tiring and often overwhelming. The support can be in form of a teacher who gives extra attention to your child because they are struggling or the coach who encourages your child to believe in himself. Or the support may be a mentor, therapist, counselor or parent coach who helps you deal with the parenting challenges you face.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness as a parent; it’s an indication that you are wise enough to know your own strengths and weaknesses and know that there is a time to get reinforcements.
Have you given yourself permission to do any of these five things? If not and you’d like support, I’m here to help. Please schedule a free intro consultation here.
In my opinion, self-care is a new buzz word, but the honest truth is that if you as a parent neglect to care for yourself, you will negatively impact the family because a lack of self-care causes stress.
Many parents put self-care on the bottom of their priority list, but people who take care of themselves are happier and have more stamina to get more accomplished.