Self-care might be the last thing on your mind right now with the busyness of your life and the world, but it’s still essential to our health and well-being. Especially now that the news seems overwhelming at times, we need to take care of ourselves so we can continue caring for our little ones. Remember that setting the example for our kids might make a difference down the line as they balance their own responsibilities with the need for self-care.
Here’s how to put yourself first:
1. Fill your own cup
As a parent, you are always taking care of other people. The whirlwind of worry, cooking, feeding, diaper changing, snotty nose wiping, cleaning, scheduling, shopping, working, and sleepless nights leaves you feeling frazzled and drained. The cycle of constantly tending to others’ needs leaves no time for your own.
But you can’t pour from an empty cup. In reality, serving yourself first will allow you to best serve others. It is not selfish, it’s just basic self-respect. Something you want your kids to learn, right?
So find a way to make self-care a priority. The world can wait while you take a little break to go for a walk, read a book, pursue a hobby you enjoy, do some yoga, prep healthy meals, or even take a fantastic nap.
2. Get moving
One of the single most important ways to implement self-care is to exercise. I know, I know, you’ve heard this one a million times. “But I don’t have the energy or time, it’s hard, it’s boring,” you might say.
But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. You don’t have to spend hours a day, buy expensive equipment, join a class, kill yourself boot camp-style, or even go to the gym (unless that’s your thing, of course).
Just get your body moving. Find something that you actually enjoy. Walk, dance, or follow a simple at-home workout plan in your living room. You’ll find it invigorating and will be surprised at all the wonderful things it will do in your life, like boost energy and immunity, improve your sleep, and even help you think more clearly. Not to mention you’ll be setting a great example for your kids to follow, double win!
3. Let boredom ring
Two little words every parent dreads hearing. That phrase sends us into a frenzy of googling activities to do, Pinterest-y snacks to make, local events to go to, and crafts to make out of toilet paper tubes. Then, when our offspring decide none of this stuff is acceptable, we throw up our hands and just give them another hour of screen time.
Why do we think we need to entertain our kids at all times?
LET THEM BE BORED.
Everyone experiences it. No one ever died from it. It’s not something you need to protect your children from.
There are actually all kinds of benefits to getting bored. Boredom fosters creativity. When a kid hits that state of nothing left to do, their brain starts really firing. Bored thoughts lead to innovative thoughts, which are a good thing.
They will come up with something to do, no matter how much whining happens first. If they really need help, create a list with them that they can always go back to. If that doesn’t work, you can always make a list of chores or ask them to help you clean. Suddenly anything else becomes oh-so-fun!
If they’re always handed things to do, how are they ever going to handle themselves? Constant doting and attention can lead to them feeling entitled throughout life. Let them start thinking for themselves.
Remember, learning to amuse themselves helps develop problem-solving skills, motivation, and interests of their own – all contributing to healthy psychological development and a clear sense of self.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to ignore your children. It’s great to spend time and do things with them, but it’s also okay and even beneficial to let them figure things out for themselves sometimes.
Bonus: You might even be able to get some valuable me-time out of it.
4. Give yourself a time-out
Although you probably can’t take a daily nap or excuse yourself from frustrating moments in most situations, you can give yourself a little time out when you need it at home. If you need a break, just go to another room and cool down a bit. Breathe. You’ll likely be more reasonable and collected when you come back.
5. Help yourself to some hygge
Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish term meaning “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” It’s likely a factor in why Denmark is considered the happiest country in the world.
Unfortunately, in our fast-paced culture, relaxing can be viewed as laziness or underachievement. Silence your inner critic and anyone else whose opinion you don’t need. Taking a break is not only nice, it’s necessary.
Just as adequate sleep is vital to overall health and functioning, a hygge-style mental rest can make you feel refreshed, full of joy, and more productive, among other things.
So have a hefty helping of hygge however it suits you. Slow down to savor a mug of hot cocoa or coffee, enjoy family movie night, slip on some warm fuzzy slippers, listen to music, Netflix and chill, go on a date night, get together with friends, bake cookies, chill on the beach…whatever makes you feel comforted and cozy. Try to make this a regular thing in your life. It’s a lifestyle, not just an occasional thing.