Being a parent is very rewarding, but it can be very stressful too. It can feel like you’re being pulled in multiple directions at once or that there just are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Of course, you want to put the needs of your child and family first. However, it is important to take care of yourself too. That’s why having a strong self-care routine in place is so important to parents.
Why have a self-care routine?
If you have ever flown on a commercial airplane, then you know the directions given by the flight crew. If there is a loss of oxygen, masks will drop, but you are directed to put your mask on first before helping someone else, such as your child or partner. Why? Because you can’t help your child unless you have oxygen! The same is true in our everyday lives. If we don’t have a self-care routine in place, our capacity to meet our child’s needs drops. For example, you can:
- Lose focus.
- Become irritable.
- React to your child’s behaviour instead of responding.
- Be prone to anger.
You probably won’t black out from a lack of oxygen, but if you don’t take care of yourself your ability to be an effective parent will diminish over time.
Ideas for strong self-care
There are lots of ideas for emotional self-care that you can incorporate into your routine. However, there are a few key points that everyone ought to include:
- Sleep: Parents, especially parents of newborns, are notorious for not getting enough sleep. There are good reasons why you’re not sleeping, but make a conscious effort to get rest for yourself. Being sleep-deprived during the day significantly affects your ability to function, and it gets worse the longer it goes on.
- Exercise: Who has time to work out? Yet research shows that exercise is important for both our physical and emotional health.
- Private time: Even just 30 minutes of time to ourselves each day helps.
- Humour: Our lives are busy and stressful, which is why having a sense of humour is so important when things don’t go the way we expected.
- Space: We all need personal space to call our own and to have as a refuge to recharge.
You may have your own ideas for needs that are important and help keep you grounded. For example, participating in a sport, hobby, or craft that you enjoy.
How to build a self-care routine
There is no magic formula for creating a self-care routine. Consider these ideas:
- Develop a morning routine that allows you to get up before the kids. Instead of turning on the TV or checking your phone, make a warm drink and read or journal. Make this a habit that you do each day.
- Steal time here and there to exercise throughout the day. Even a short walk has its benefits.
- Create a space in your home that is yours, even if it’s just a corner of a room.
- Ask for help! Can a partner, relative, friend, or trusted neighbour help you out? Are there resources in the community that provide support for parents? Don’t think you have to do this alone!
The key to building a routine is being willing to stick with it. If doing all this at once is overwhelming, try instead to incorporate one new idea at a time. Make it a goal to try something new each week. Some ideas, such as humour, will be less of a scheduling problem than attempting to change a mindset. Be patient, new habits take time to develop but are definitely worth trying.
Parenting isn’t easy, but it can be very rewarding. Remember, this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. By taking some simple steps for self-care you can ensure that you will be able to make it for the long-haul.
Getting more support
If you’re struggling, it might be worth reaching out for help. As already suggested, friends, family, and community groups are brilliant sources of support. However, sometimes, professional help might be beneficial. If you feel that we might be able to help, please do reach out. We would be very happy to speak with you. You can call us on 0151 329 3637
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