Parenting means sacrificing things for our kids. That’s ok! In fact it’s a good thing that we put our kids first, it means that they get what they need out of life, growing up healthy and happy. As parents, we so often forget that it’s not only our kids who need to be taken care of but that we need to take care of ourselves as well. Remember that they can’t be healthy and happy if you aren’t. Taking care of you IS taking care of your kids!
That’s really easy to say, but it’s not nearly so easy to do. You can’t just escape from life at least not regularly! So here are some solid ways that you can take care of yourself all day long. If you try out just a few of these, you’ll quickly find that you are better to your kids and that your whole family is happier and healthier!
In the Morning
Feeling healthy and whole starts first thing in the morning. How do you want your kids to start their day off? With a solid breakfast. Do that yourself! It doesn’t have to be hard. Try the “three” model of breakfast cereal – one cup of super protein whole grain cereal, one cup of low-fat or non-dairy milk, and one cup of fresh fruit. A good breakfast makes a HUGE difference. Keep it simple, and never miss it!
Let go of the word “stress.” Think of situations as being “challenging” or “difficult” instead. Why? Because this gives you the power to make a change in the situation. Stress is something that you can’t change. But you can! Add reminders to your day to help keep that idea in your mind. Here are a couple of fun ideas!
Trick yourself into feeling better. This is a great passive way to take care of yourself! Cinnamon and peppermint are both shown to increase alertness and to decrease frustration. Use this! Hang air fresheners in your car, take a bath with some serious scents. Here are some ideas.
Midday Boost for YOU
1. Talk to a Stranger
This one sounds a little crazy, but research has shown that talking to a stranger improves our mood. Try it! In line at the grocery store, at the park with your child, on the bus, wherever! Talking to someone new releases all kinds of endorphins in your brain. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to start a lifelong friendship. Just a hello and a smile coupled with a compliment make you and they feel better.
2. Dream Away
Moments along are oh so precious to parents. When you have a couple of minutes to yourself, use a few to dream away. You can even do this in the bathroom!
- Find a quiet spot (again, anywhere!)
- Sit or lie comfortably.
- Raise your shoulders up high, and then sink back down low.
- Close your eyes.
- Breath deeply through your nose, then exhale long through your mouth.
- Think yourself to a time and place that is relaxing and releasing – the beach, the mountains, a comfy chair. Avoid bedtime type fantasies (you don’t want to get sleepy!). Allow yourself to sink into the fantasy, for several minutes. Set a timer on your phone for three minutes or more, and feel better!
3. Drink Some Tea
If you’ve never tried tea, then now is a great time to give it a go. Black tea is shown to lower stress hormones. Chamomile helps with relaxation. Green tea is full of antioxidants. Peppermint will wake you up and get you ready for the adventures of parenting! Pair it with some honey and milk for a simple release. Warm drinks relax your vocal chords and neck muscles to boot!
Evening – Winding Down for Yourself
1. Light a Candle
Evening tends to be a time when parents get wound up about the day ahead. Unfortunately it doesn’t do much good to get crazy about tomorrow! In fact it only makes things more of a challenge today. Vanilla, cucumber and green apple are shown to lower anxiety. These smells can serve as both distractions as well as bringing up great childhood memories. Even if you’re paying bills or doing laundry for tomorrow, a good scent is a way of taking care of you!
2. Happy News
Make it a point to share good news from your day. We tend to talk about the bad things, and that’s because we’re looking for ways to fix them! But it’s really important that you share the good things that are going on with you too. This is a super important self care step! Bonus: it will improve the lives of your family too.
3. Go to Bed Early
It’s SO tempting to stay up late to have some time for yourself, but getting enough sleep has got to be a priority as well. Let your partner handle the kid’s bedtime routine and hit the hay early. If you have things left to do, then set that alarm for a half hour early – you’ll get whatever it is done in half the time when you’re coming off of a long night’s sleep. Pamper yourself at bed time! Take a few minutes just for you.
4. Watch a Funny Movie
If you are spending your evening with television or a movie – make it a funny one! While it’s really nice to curl up with something soapy and dramatic, it’s also stressful. Laughter really is the best medicine – and you can access that just by watching something that makes you laugh.
Take care of yourself! Remember that your kids rely on you. Doing these little things for you will make the lives of your kids that much better.