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Parent Self-Care

By: Linda Sorkin, LMFT, Soul Empowered Coaching
Parenting can be a difficult and exhausting job...well, it usually is (despite the rewarding sides)! Funny enough, our children seem to pick the most inopportune times to act out. Their defiant behavior usually surfaces when we are at our wits end, haven’t slept, are trying to meet a deadline, slaving over a messy house, and picking up after everyone else! Actually there is no ideal time to deal with our little angels! Their disobedience or the obnoxious attitude isn’t happening to us, it just is! Lack of self-care and focus in our own lives makes us less tolerant to handle the chaotic ones with grace. It is in the midst of a challenging behavioral episode when we realize we lack the skills to handle the difficult child because we have nothing left to give. This often occurs when we are frenetic and asleep in our own lives. Creating time for ourselves is an important habit not only for our own sanity but for modeling healthy behavior for our kids. The more we are practice self-care, the more time and preparation we have for the unexpected, the better able we can understand, cope and sanely respond to our kids’ random behavior.

What exactly does “self-care” actually mean?

Does it mean escaping your life and heading for the hills? Or is it locking yourself in your bedroom and taking a hot bubble bath? Perhaps it is even sipping an extra hot venti chai latte with no foam. Whatever your personal rejuvenation preference is...practice it consistently. How you muster up the patience and tolerance to move through the difficult times is what matters most. Your leadership by example will almost invariably determine much about how your kids develop into self-sufficient human beings. Finding a productive and healthy way to give to yourself is the first step in practicing self-care.

7 Tips for parents to rejuvenate and give back to ourselves:

  • Don’t wait until it is too late - make time for yourself daily. It doesn’t have to involve an elaborate process. A few minutes here and there can offer a valuable reconnection to yourself, or grounding to handle what’s coming.
  • Practice deep breathing - Your breath is a simple, powerful connection to a more relaxed state. It calms your central nervous system and enhances your perception.
  • Keep a sense of humor - It is important to laugh at yourself. Find moments in the day to laugh and release stress. In other words, don’t take yourself so seriously. You should not tolerate perfectionism!
  • Remind yourself that housework (chores, problems, worries, etc) are like dixie cups...once you pull one out another one will drop down. They will always be there...even after you die! Don’t permit your to-do list to control your emotional state and therefore your ability to deal properly with your kids. Make sure your “Me Time” is a priority before many items on the list!
  • Exercise - This one is too obvious on too many levels to address. Go to yoga, walk with a friend, exercise with your kids. Moving your body is essential to stress relief and increasing your life span. LEAD by example for your kids!
  • Hang with friends - Being with friends who are in the same boat as you can provide unparalleled support and guidance. Have a regular girls night or guys night. Also you can bring your kids along so they can have time with their friends too.
  • Talk over your stressors with a trusted friend, spouse, or even a coach or counselor. Getting advice and support is important to releasing negative energy and building strengths.

Remember if you aren’t caring for yourself, there won’t be any you left to care for others. Your family needs you and taking the steps to nurture yourself isn’t selfish! It is selfFULL! So you can give MORE! Regularly fill yourself up so your can properly and effectively tend to your family’s needs...and feel good about it!