The Importance of True Self Care for Parents
Self care has become a buzz phrase, and usually conjures up images of an hour long massage or leisurely baths with candles lit. While both those ideas sound wonderful, and can provide some much needed alone time, they're not always practical for parents and don't necessarily help with providing the self-care parents really need.
Why worry about self care?
Children are not born knowing how to regulate their emotions, so they rely heavily on their parents for co-regulation. When a parent is feeling stressed or anxious, the child picks up on those feelings, and will often exhibit undesired behaviors.
The problem is that parenting is hard, and it's even more difficult and uncertain as we navigate the uncharted territory of a global pandemic. It's normal to feel anxious, worried, sad, or angry. But we also need to have an effective way to get back to calm, confident, and centered. This is where true self-care comes in.
What is true self care?
True self care includes daily and weekly practices or coping strategies that help you get back to a calm and confident place even when things are hard (like your 3 year old throwing an epic tantrum because you cut their banana and they want you to put it back together OR your school district changing the back to school plan for the 10th time). It is a practice, and with consistency it gets easier to recognize the body's signals of overwhelm. That's when true self-care can be implemented allowing a calm response, instead of an emotional reaction.
Examples of true self care
Wake up before your kids and start your day with something you love- read a book, listen to music, meditate.
Set an intention for your day each morning- I will choose calm in the chaos or I will lead with love today. Even better write the intention down and put it somewhere you'll see it throughout the day!
Schedule time each week to do something just for you. Take a walk, work on a passion project, read, shop, take that bath, etc. You can tag team with your co-parent, or offer to switch off with another mom so you each get a turn.
End the day by listing three things you're grateful for and something you did well that day.
Ask for help! Reach out for support from a family member, friend, or online group (like BPODS parenting Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/groups/bpodsparenting) Together we are not alone!