Something happens when you become a parent; you forget about yourself, and your baby becomes the centre of your attention. Your own self-care takes a backseat.
This makes a lot of sense. After all, infants can’t fend for themselves, they can’t walk, can’t eat or wash themselves, and they must be continuously cared for. You are in charge of every element of their well-being.
But does this mean you should ignore your own self-care? Do you have to wait until your children are old enough to be left alone (or, at the very least, to go to school) before you can start giving yourself the time and attention you require before you can follow those old dreams of joining the Royal Academy of Dance or travelling the world?
The answer is that parenting shouldn’t mean this at all, and although making time for yourself may be difficult, it is also absolutely essential; as they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. In other words, you can’t care for others if you’re not caring for yourself.
Here are some ideas of how to go about it.
Cook Wholesome Meals
Many people equate wholesome to boring when it comes to food. That couldn’t be further from the truth if you use a bit of creative flair in the kitchen. Try to reduce the amount of meat in your diet and choose brown rice and pasta over white, over-processed varieties. It might take a bit of getting used to, but the bite in both is actually quite nice. Thai curries, soups packed with vegetables and filling pasta dishes are all simple but tasty options. Resorting to opening the JustEat app or phoning the local kebab shop might be a heck of a lot easier, but you don’t get that satisfaction you get from preparing something for yourself. Bonus with the aforementioned meals is that you will have plenty for the next couple of days for lunches – and what could be better self-care than organising your meals for the week? Well… here are some more ideas…
Meditation is an excellent way to provide yourself with the self-care you need while raising a family. Meditation is great because it can be done very quickly (even if you only have a couple of minutes to spare, you can meditate), it’s easy to do once you know how, and you can do it wherever you are at any time you choose to or need to.
You just need around ten minutes a day to meditate, although less time is fine if that’s all you have. The difference will be enormous if you can do it (maybe when you first wake up, or just before going to bed, or when the kids are sleeping or eating their dinner, for example). You can reset your mind and body, and you’ll notice that you’re in a lot better emotional state; you’ll be calmer and more focused, and the issues you were having before will appear smaller, or at least manageable.
Self-care is not about being selfish; rather, it is about doing things for yourself that will make you happy and keep you feeling well, even though life as a parent is difficult and you may feel overwhelmed at times. Treating yourself on occasion is not something you should ever feel guilty about; in fact, it may be essential to give you a good quality of life and enable you to be a better parent.
You can make your treats as big or as small as you like. You could purchase a guilty pleasure magazine at the checkout when you go shopping, or you could join up for a monthly subscription of your favourite thing so you always have something to look forward to. Perhaps you’re planning a spa day or prefer to order a delivery of food instead of cooking. The treat itself is entirely up to you, but the most essential aspect is planning and enjoying it. It could even take the form of challenging yourself to learn a new skill or join a local club.
Self-care does not have to cost money, and you can do it entirely for free. Simply stepping outdoors and breathing in some fresh air can help you reset your thoughts and feel calmer and more present.
Go for a stroll around your neighbourhood or visit a park. Perhaps you could go to the beach. Whatever you do, make the most of your time. Stop thinking about the other things you need to accomplish and just be in the present; it will benefit you and your family in the end.
If you are a new parent or perhaps you are just beginning to feel completely overwhelmed with the pressures of having children, stop and evaluate your lifestyle. Do you make time to practise self-care? I know it can be challenging to find the time, but by doing so, you will feel so much better, recharge those batteries and offer your children a more positive parent.