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Self-care for Parents
Photo by Max Von Den Otelaar on Unsplash

You’re probably all too familiar with the usual suggestions for helping yourself to feel calmer and more positive:

  • going to bed earlier
  • having a long, relaxing bath
  • making the time to read a good book
  • meditating
  • journaling
  • Skyping a friend for a chat
  • spending some time on a favourite hobby
  • exercising
  • buying oneself some flowers
  • listening to music we love
  • etc, etc, etc, etc…..

These are just a few of the many simple things that each of us can do to help ourselves to feel better and to behave better. Most of them don’t even require a lot of time or money or planning. And when I ask parents about their self-care habits, they frequently tell me that suggestions like those in the paragraph above are effective at improving their mood, motivation, confidence, and resilience when the parents actually do them, but…..

‘But’ and Short-term thinking

There’s always a ‘but - that ‘but’ is usually about time.

Mothers especially feel that it would be selfish of them to spend time on themselves when there’s so much else that needs to get done for their family. This mistaken belief is the result of short-term thinking: just getting through each day.

But parenting is not much fun when you’re just trying to get through the day. That can feel like a slog a lot of the time.

Part of practising being positive, firm and consistent is not allowing yourself to fall into the habit of believing the typical, habitual excuses for why you don’t make the time to be good to yourself:

  • ‘I’m too busy.’
  • ‘I can’t afford it’.
  • ‘I’m fine, really I am.’
  • ‘It feels too self-indulgent.’
  • ‘My children just want to be around me the whole time.’
  • ‘It’s not that important.’
  • ‘My children need me, and so do my parents, who are quite old and not in good health.’
  • ‘It’s been years since I spent time on my hobbies. I wouldn’t know where to start.’
  • ‘Buying myself flowers isn’t going to help my mood; it’s my marriage that’s the problem.’
  • ‘I don’t want to grab a half-hour here and there; I would need to get away for a whole week if I really want to feel better.’
  • etc, etc, etc.

‘And’ and Long-term thinking

Long-term thinking tells us that taking care of your emotional well-being is probably the very best thing you can do to improve your children’s cooperation, confidence, motivation, self-reliance, consideration – and their self-esteem. That’s because managing and improving your own moods will enable you to focus on interacting with your children more positively, more firmly, and more consistently, and that’s the essence of effective teaching and training.

Managing your own emotions gives children the best gift you could possibly give your children, the gift of your best self.

The best time of the day for self care

Let me address the question of when during your busy life you could focus on self-care: in most families the best time is after your children are asleep. This is yet another excellent reason for getting your children and teens into the habit of going to bed earlier. Not only is it good for them; it’s also good for you!

As much as you love your children and enjoy hanging out with them, you also need some down-time every day, some time when you’re not focused on being a parent or on getting things done. Spending some time every day focusing on taking care of your own needs will help you to replenish your energy and enthusiasm and determination. It will help you to be the parent you want to be, and also the partner that you want to be.

So here’s what often happens. Once the children are in bed and you can count on having some distraction-free time, it’s tempting to dive into tidying up or sending that urgent email or tackling something on your to-do list. But if you want to be more positive, firm and consistent, you need to develop the habit of making some time every day to fill your emotional ‘tank’.

Self-care is family care

Taking the time, and making the effort, to give yourself what you need will enable you to become more and more positive, firm and consistent. You’ll discover that you’ll

  • smile more
  • find it easier to Descriptively Praise more (not just your children, but also your partner, if you have one)
  • be more inclined to Reflectively Listen instead of lecturing
  • get better at slowing down and thinking before you speak
  • be more determined to stick to your rules, routines and instructions much more consistently

And the result of all of the above is that you’ll enjoy being a parent as you teach and train your children to be more cooperative, motivated, confident, self-reliant, experience better self-esteem, and so much more!

So remember: Self-care is not a luxury. Self-care is not being selfish. Self-care is necessary for you and good for your family.

© Noël Janis-Norton 2021

You may like these ideas but be unsure how to put them into practice. Would you like some advice about how to make all this happen? To find out how the ‘Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting and Teaching’ resources and services can help you and your family, please browse our website or email us: admin@calmerparenting.co.uk

On our website, our Youtube channel and our Facebook page we provide support materials: videos, podcasts, articles, books, Audiobooks.

If you would like personalised advice that is specific to your family’s needs, we offer a parenting programme that includes private consultations (via Skype) and home visits.

For schools we offer parenting talks and teacher-training.

Please get in touch for more information. Noël and her team welcome enquiries from parents and educators.

If you know anyone who might be interested in the above suggestions we are happy for you to share this article;
however, please forward the article in its entirety, including the logo and the last paragraph, and make sure that
Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting and Teaching’ is credited. Thank you.

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