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Prioritizing Parents: Self-Care for Parents and Why it Matters

Before my son was born, I would dedicate a couple of hours one day a week to pamper myself. I didn’t spend a lot of money and I didn’t go out of my way, but I did spend an hour or two focused on self-care. Most of the time, it would look like lighting a few candles, drawing a bath, and throwing on a face mask while watching my favorite show or a new movie. It didn’t require much effort or planning, but it got done every single week; and it felt great!

I honestly can’t remember the last time I had the opportunity to spend this much time alone, and definitely can’t remember the last time I pampered myself. Self-care is something that fell to the very bottom of my priority list once I brought my son home from the hospital. He’s almost two years old now and I still don’t prioritize myself like I should. It’s something I am actively working on, and hope that you are too. There are so many reasons to participate in self-care, including (but not limited to) promoting physical and emotional well-being, providing positive role modeling for our kiddos, increasing patience and resilience, improving relationships, and preventing parental burnout.

I speak from experience when I say that leaving self-care on the back burner as a parent has the potential to seriously affect your life negatively. I realized recently that I was experiencing burnout in parenting, my marriage, and just my everyday life. Parental burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion resulting from chronic stress and neglecting self-care. By putting myself last in every aspect of my life, I was actually sabotaging my relationship with my partner and my child, and I was perpetuating a vicious cycle that I essentially couldn’t pull myself out of.

So, how do we prevent this parental burnout? How do we re-learn to prioritize ourselves as the parent? How do we find the time in our day to incorporate self-care? These are great questions, and I’d love to offer a few suggestions.

I’m assuming most of my readers know the saying “put your oxygen mask on first before helping those around you” - this is essential when flying on an airplane because if you don’t have oxygen, how do you plan to help those around you? Without sustaining your own life, you are unable to care for the people in your circle. So, translate that to parenting or leading a family: “care for yourself before you care for those around you”. This is the only way we can prevent parental burnout. It’s something we have to re-learn if we entered parenthood with the expectation of being the constant martyr for our family.

Self-care is something we must slowly incorporate into our daily lives in order to make it a part of our routine. Small goals are key here. For example, when I realized something needed to change for me and my family, I examined my daily routine and tried to find time where I could incorporate small doses of self-care. This looked like utilizing micro-moments, being as present as possible, and asking for what I need.

Micro-moments are something I learned from my therapist and they are incredibly useful. Take note of some of the things you have to do everyday: use the bathroom, wash your hands; and things you fit into your already busy day: washing dishes, vacuuming, laundry, etc. During these tasks, use the time to ground yourself and practice self-care. For example, when I wash my hands, I take a moment to feel my feet planted on the ground, the water washing over my skin, and I take note of every feeling I can name. I try to take three big deep breaths, and when I dry my hands I allow myself to fall back into reality. Utilizing these micro-moments throughout my day ensures that I incorporate self-care into my busy schedule. It allows me to become grounded and therefore more present throughout the day-to-day, when it feels like I am continually on autopilot.

In being more present through my day, I’m also able to realize when I could be implementing self-care. For some people, self-care is scrolling on their phone for a solid ten minutes. I’ve noticed for me though, that if I start a scroll, it turns into a doom scroll. So when I’m able to be more present in my day, I can realize when I pick up my phone that I could use those ten minutes instead to journal, meditate, or sit in silence and simply reflect on my thoughts.

Asking for what I need is something I have to work really hard at, every single day. I grew up being fairly self-sufficient, and received high praise for that characteristic, so now I’m having to re-learn how to lean on others for support. I am incredibly lucky in that I have a partner who supports me and wants to show up for me in whatever way I need. Additionally, I have friends and family nearby who are willing to help if I ask for it. So if I’ve had a particularly stressful day with my toddler, I am becoming more comfortable with asking for thirty minutes of alone time from my partner. I have to tell myself each time that asking for that time is not selfish; rather, it is incredibly self-less. Our son gets one-on-one quality time with his other parent, she gets to connect with her child, and I get to recharge so that I can show up in a way that aligns with my values.

Practicing self-care is something we should strive to do daily. It is incredibly important for our emotional, mental, and physical well-being, as well as crucial to maintaining healthy relationships. By prioritizing ourselves as parents, we are better able to show up for our spouses and of course, our children. Additionally, by answering our own needs, we are role modeling for our children that we should meet our own needs before attempting to meet the needs of others. Self-care is a practice that takes time to develop. Set small goals for yourself such as getting five minutes of alone time, or journaling each morning and night, and gradually increase those goals to ensure all of your physical, mental, and emotional needs are met.

I would love to hear how you prioritize yourself in the comments below!

Wishing a week full of self-care,


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