While seated on an airplane, an oxygen mask descends in front of you. What do you do? Flight attendants instruct you prior to take off to “put your own oxygen mask on before assisting child(ren) or others in your care.” This is great parenting advice for life in general. Caring for yourself is one of the most important and one of the most often forgotten things you can do as a parent or caregiver. We first must take care of ourselves before we can effectively take care of others. If we neglect our self-care, we burn-out, or “run out of oxygen” and are not able to parent effectively or care for others with our best selves.
It is easy to hear about self-care and dismiss it as frivolous, unnecessary, or maybe even selfish as it is often confused with self-indulgence. Self-care has little to do with self-indulgence and everything to do with health and wellness. Self-care habits help parents and caregivers to stay healthy, unlike self-indulgent habits that tend to be short-term fixes rather than real solutions to health needs.
Self-care and mental health are connected. Neglecting one can have a negative impact on the other. Parental/caregiver stress or burnout can become severe enough that it can be challenging to overcome and/or can lead to mental and physical health concerns. By eating well, sleeping enough, and finding ways to meet your personal needs, you’ll be better able to care for your child(ren) and fulfill other personal duties.
□ Prioritize Sleep.
□ Create a daily bedtime and morning routine that takes care of you.
□ Wake up 30 minutes before the kids to balance yourself before the day starts.
□ Set aside time to spend with friends and family without your child(ren).
□ Schedule a date with your significant other.
□ Take 10 minutes each day to “be still”.
□ Nourish your body with nutritious foods.
□ Put a meme, or quote on your fridge to encourage and/or motivate yourself.
□ Keep routines as simple as possible to streamline and save time.
□ Prepare for the next day the night before to save time and avoid rushing.
□ Ask others for support or help.
□ Play your favorite song, write in a journal, read a book.
□ Hydrate! Drinking water throughout the day. (Add fruit to make it tasty.)
□ Prioritize your physical health.
□ Attend your physical check-ups.
□ Take a daily walk, do yoga, or find a physical activity you enjoy.
□ Set aside time to engage in hobbies you enjoy or learn a new skill.
□ Attend to your spiritual needs.
What takes care of your soul? Create a self-care plan today.