Let's face it. It's a challenging time to be a parent. During the quarantine, there's been no "break" from parenting, no help from babysitters or daycare or pre-school or family members who typically shoulder the responsibility with you.
There are no date nights where you can remember the "other" you (the one not wearing sweatpants all day long). Many of us have been completely immersed in childcare on top of our other priorities.
It's been overwhelming (even if you've enjoyed the family time).
Not to mention your reasonable fear and uncertainty about the current situation and how it may affect your family, your finances, your future. What will life be like once this is all over? The fear and worry can be so pervasive that we don't take proper care of ourselves. We're simply too preoccupied and overwhelmed.
That's why it's so critical to reserve time for genuine self-care. Honest-to-goodness "me time." Not only for your own physical and mental wellbeing but the health of your family. There might never be a more critical time for our self-care and our sanity than now.
It is only when we take the time to look after our own needs first that we can genuinely give our best to those around us. Focusing on your wellbeing so you can reclaim the energy you need for great parenting will go a long way to help you stay focused on your work and other priorities.
And when your kids see you making time for self-care, it teaches them the importance of it as well.
Think about it. If we don't get enough sleep, how can we parent effectively? If we don't eat healthy food, how will we have the resources to continually show up as parents and do our work at the same time? If we give up on our self-care, exercise and good habits, citing lack of time as an excuse, it's a slippery slope down the hill to stress, overwhelm and anxiety.
So how can you, as a parent, practice more self-care to build immunity, feel energised and parent more effectively? Here are a few simple but effective ideas:
- Meditate. Rise early, before the kids, and spend time sitting in meditation. Use visualisation to see your day unfolding in a productive and inspiring way with all your outcomes being achieved.
- Appreciate. Get all your thoughts and concerns out of your head and down on paper by writing in your journal. Write your appreciation list for all the things you're grateful for and focus on the good in each day. Write down your top 3-4 priorities each morning to help you manage overwhelm.
- Focus on your intake. Decide to focus on fresh, healthy foods for maximum energy. Choose healthy snacks, drink 1.5L of water to stay well hydrated, and limit your caffeine.
- Stretch it out. Spend 15 minutes each morning, stretching your body on the floor. Focus on deep, intentional belly breathing to release and relax your entire body and mind. Repeat right before bed.
- Move your body. Aim for 30 mins of exercise each day, even if it's just a light jog, a walk around the block, a short yoga session, or a bodyweight workout.
- Reset. Sneak away to the bathroom, lock the door behind you, light some candles, and take a long hot bath or shower. As the water runs over you, visualise any stress, anxieties or fears flowing from your body and down the drain. Finish with a burst of cold water to invigorate and reset your body, mind, and spirit.
- Be present. Stay off your devices as much as possible, especially right before bed, to reduce overwhelm, stress, and fatigue. Focus on one thing at a time and remember multi-tasking is an energy drainer.
Before you go, read this twice: self-care is not selfish. On the contrary, it's one of the best gifts you can give to yourself and your children. Yes, taking a step back from your duties as a parent can lead to guilt and anxiety, especially now. But that much-needed break results in higher energy, better health, more patience, a better immune system, and a more positive outlook.
At the end of the day, isn't that the type of parent you want to be for your child?