Recharging Your Batteries: 4 Ways Parents Can Take of Themselves in a Busy Household
In caring for their children, parents often give up on caring for themselves. David Code, author of Kids Pick Up On Everything: How Parental Stress Is Toxic To Kids uses various scientific findings to show that parental stress can have a negative effect on the development of children. Parental self-care is not only essential for your own well-being; it is also important for the wellbeing of your family. Here are several ways that you can start taking better care of yourself:
1. Schedule Time For Yourself
It is easy to give in and live with the idea that you simply do not have time for yourself. But until you deliberately schedule time for yourself, you will never have time. So block out some ‘alone time’ and let your family and your partner know that you need to be alone at this time. You do not have to be gone for days. You can schedule a day off every week for a couple of hours, where you spend time doing the things you love to do. When you formally schedule time, you can then organize your other responsibilities in a way that will accommodate your scheduled ‘alone time.’
2. Do what You Love
Your ‘alone time’ is a time to do the things you love doing. If you are still undertaking parental responsibilities in your free time, you are not doing yourself a favour. This is a time to pursue your hobbies, visit the salon, catch up with friends, go shopping or go to the park. If you are more physically inclined, you could take a jog, a brisk walk, go swimming or hit the gym. Alternatively, you could take up yoga and other stress management activities that will help rejuvenate your energy and your mood too. Remember to incorporate regular exercises and healthy eating into your self-care regimen.
3. Manage Your Time Effectively
Stress and lack of time can come as a result of disorganization in the house. One way to create more time for yourself is to start the day early; you will be less rushed in the morning, there will be less yelling and decreased irritability, all of which can cause stress. Routines and clear to-do lists for the kids can really help in creating a peaceful, organized home. Also, get the kids to help with some of the work around the house so that you are not forced to do everything in a limited amount of time. You do not have to wait until your scheduled “alone time” to take a break. Make use of the time in between to enjoy mini breaks. For example, after dropping the kids off to school, you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee and cake at the local café; or when your baby is asleep, you can also take this time to nap.
4. Ask For Help
Your first source of help should be your partner. Mothers tend to carry most of the burden when it comes to taking care of the children. If possible, mom and dad should share parenting roles so no one feels overwhelmed and risks suffering from stress. Perhaps once a week, dad can take care of the children and allow mom the day off to do what she loves without stressing about the kids. It is also helpful to ask for assistance from friends, neighbours, colleagues and families. Your support network can allow you to take short breaks and occasionally ease you of the stress of taking care of young children.