All children require a lot of attention and care, and all parents can get worn down and exhausted. Parents with children in therapy may feel there is not an ounce of time left in the day to pay attention to their own physical, emotional, or social needs. BLOOM believes in focusing on the whole child and the whole family–because the whole picture matters.
We care about you too, Mom. We want you to be your healthiest self, Dad.
Self-care is critical for avoiding anxiety, burnout, and the ever-present challenges of parenting a child in therapy. Discover BLOOM’s course Parenting a Needy Child for support in your parenting journey.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is defined as: “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” The key word here is practice: let’s work on this together!
If you have a child in therapy, a needy child, or a child you are working with to uncover a diagnosis, self-care can be especially hard to achieve. It’s also in these situations that self-care is most needed. Small steps can make a big difference–start small and aim for tiny changes over time.
3 Types of Self-Care for Parents
Here are simple ideas for parents who need self-care but can’t imagine how they can practically make it happen:
- Prioritizing: When you make a to-do list, do you find that you are always at the bottom? Show yourself a little love, and move the things that are “you focused” up a few tiers on the to-do list. If you always save yourself for last, you will likely run out of time, and the cycle of exhaustion will be perpetuated. When you take care of your needs earlier on, you will be able to present your best self to your family throughout the day.
- Alone time: If you realize you need this, create it. Most likely, it will not just magically occur, especially when you have young children or a larger family. An idea to make this work is to have a space that is designated to be your space. You might not have access to a room that can be solely yours. It might be a walk-in closet or a comfy seat on the patio. Make sure your family knows that this is your space to spend a few minutes in when you need alone time. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, go to your space to think quietly, read a chapter of a book, listen to music, or call a friend.
Rest: If you are anything like most parents, you power through the busy day, put the kids to bed, and then snuggle up for some much-needed rest and relaxation before winding down to sleep. (Ha! Not quite!) More realistically, as soon as their little heads hit the pillow, you zoom around the house, trying to accomplish everything that needs to be done while they are in their beds. Eventually, you submit to the clock's persistent warnings that you are staying up way too late. When you set your alarm, you feel disappointed to see how many hours are left before the blaring bells yank you from your bed again.
This is not the best approach to rest and relaxation. You may be craving a change. Are you? Reorganizing the daytime schedule will limit the amount that needs to be done after the kids go to bed. Depending on kids' ages and abilities, enlist their help with an after-dinner chore. Do some of the chores together while listening to music and spending time as a family. What if once a week, you chose to go to bed right after putting the kids to bed? Adding in extra sleep will provide extra energy and alertness in your day. You will simply feel better.
Simple Self-Care for Busy Parents
Every parent is busy, and self-care can seem like a great but elusive idea amidst a non-stop weekly schedule. For some parents, it’s helpful to think of self-care as opportunities to sprinkle in at least five mini-self-care sessions throughout the day.
What does this look like? It might be basking in the warm sun, letting your kids brush your hair, applying lotion or quick-drying nail polish, or slowly sipping tea or coffee to purposely enjoy the flavor. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be meaningful!
The key to self-care is that it is very individualized. A walk might be very therapeutic for one person but just be viewed as another task added to a busy day for another. Take the time to experiment with what works for you. When you finish an activity and realize… “I feel quite a bit lighter”, or find the thought passing through your mind, “that was nice…” those are the activities to add to your regular line-up.
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