March 10, 2021

Self-Care for Parents: Necessary, Not Selfish

Help yourself and set a good example for you children by taking some time for yourself

Have you ever caught yourself being stressed, tired and needing a break? However, as soon as you have a sitter for the kids you find yourself saying, “No, that’s okay” because you feel guilty for needing “you” time? You are NOT alone!!! Many parents experience this and often put off time for themselves because they feel it is selfish to do something that does not involve their children. The thing is - it is okay to need a break! Parents NEED time for self-care! It is necessary, not selfish! Self-care is important for everyone because it the act of caring for oneself mentally, physically, spiritually, socially, and emotionally. Self-care helps us to become the best version of ourselves by assisting us in preserving our overall health and by helping keep us regulated in times of distress. Parents need to engage in self-care not only for themselves, but also so they can function at their best for their children. Parents who engage in regular self-care are more likely to manage their stress, resulting in healthier relationships and communication with their children and spouse.

Sure, self-care can help take the edge off those hard days; but engaging in self-care also models healthy behaviors and ways to cope for your children. Albert Bandura, a Canadian-American Psychologist from the 1960’s, came up with the “Social Learning Theory.” This theory suggests that children learn through observing and imitating others whether it be their physical actions, emotional display, etc. With that, when your children see you taking time for yourself – exercising, meditating, reading, taking a hot bath, or even walking away to get space when you are upset so you calm down; your children are learning how to deal with distress in a healthy, appropriate way. Remember, the next time you begin to feel that you are almost at your limit – it’s okay to arrange for a sitter or ask your spouse to step in so you can gather yourself. Other recommended ways to implement self-care in your routine may include but are not limited to:

  • Planning a set day once or twice in the month to go on dates with your significant other or friends
  •  Joining an exercise class or gym (it can even be a healthy activity for your family and a way to get “you time” all in one!)
  •  Adding “quiet-time” in your household routine where everyone goes to their space and naps, reads, or listens to music in headphones for a designated amount of time (30 mins or so)
  • Food prepping meals for the week to save time and reduce daily responsibility (while assuring a healthy meal for your family)
  • Making sure you are getting enough rest and sleep
  • Taking a walk on your lunch break at work
  • Taking a hot bath or getting a massage
  • Engaging in an activity that you enjoy (reading, art, etc.)