Self-care for parents is so much more than taking care of ourselves with time away. While lovely and necessary, a bubble bath / mani-pedi / walk in the woods just isn’t enough.
I truly believe that in order to be the best parent we can be, we need to be the best person we can be. Which is why self-care should always involve hearty doses of self-reflection and challenge: What we ask of our kids, we should be asking of ourselves as well.
This is about challenging ourselves to be the person we are raising our kids to be.
Every time we ask our children to push themselves a little harder to beat their best.
Every time we challenge them to solve a new problem.
Every time we tell them to practise their instrument or their sport or their lessons.
Every time we remind them to be friendly, be kind, be attentive, be present.
When we ask our kids to stand up for themselves, turn the other cheek, make a new friend, feel the fear and do it anyway. We need to ask that of ourselves as well.
How can we expect to raise our children to fulfill their potential, when we are not rising to fulfill our own?
This is about challenging ourselves to be the person we are raising our kids to be. When we consider self-care for parents in this way, what does it actually look like?
Committing to our personal growth
We take a lot of time to consider what our children need to learn and develop, but how much consideration do we give to our own personal growth?
As my old friend Dr Phil used to say (back when he was relevant and not weird), “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.”
Trouble is, you can’t acknowledge what you don’t make time to see, either.
So, let’s agree to set some time aside each week to focus on ourselves. Taking time to sort through things like:
1. Where we are in life
How we feel about our daily life; what we are looking forward to; how in control we feel; how acknowledged and heard we are; how appreciated we feel; etc.
2. Where we want to be
What changes we would like to make and why; what we hope for our future; where we see ourselves in a year’s time, three years time, five years, later; our ideal life; etc.
3. Things that are holding us back
The current obstacles we are facing; future barriers; toxic people in our life; poor self-esteem and self-sabotage; unhelpful habits; etc.
4. What we need to move forward
What support we need to change the things we want to change; our plan for overcoming obstacles and barriers; people; resources; etc.
“I have to find more time now?”
Which is all well and good, but if we’re already struggling to make time for a bloody shower, how are we going to fit in self-reflection, self-awareness and self-improvement as well?
Well, we’re not.
We shouldn’t see these things as ‘extras’, rather they should be something that we do as a matter of course.
The thing is, this kind of self-care for parents should be an ‘everyday’ thing.
It really doesn’t take much extra time to be mindful of our thoughts and actions. Setting small goals that align with our values and reflecting on our day-to-day experiences. We shouldn’t see these things as ‘extras’, rather they should be something that we do as a matter of course.
I often think I “don’t have any time” for something, but I find that if I ditch my mobile phone, I’ve got all the time in the world.
This kind of self-care for parents should be an ‘everyday’ thing.
It actually scares me how much time I generally waste reading mindless shit on the internet. Lately, instead of scrolling through social media, I’ve been writing my thoughts on some of the questions above in my notebook. I’m amazed by how much clarity this small activity is bringing me (and how much less junkie info is clogging up my brain).
Little by little, I will soon have worked out a plan for ‘future me’, one that I can involve the kids in helping me achieve. And, of course, once I’ve finished making plans and plotting my course, it will be time to go back to the beginning and start all over again.
And I can’t wait.
What does ‘self-care’ mean to you?
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