One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to take time that you could be spending with your kids or taking care of one of the myriad of tasks that are a part of running a household and spend that time on yourself. Weird thought, right? Because part of being a parent is being selfless, and focusing on the other important people in your life (kids, spouse, pets, etc). What we are forgetting, though, is that without self-care, we fall apart. And if the parent falls apart (especially the one that does the majority of parenting), then where do things end up? The pieces fall, and there is no one there to catch them. But is that really true? Try to take a step back and really analyze: can you take time for yourself without the walls crumbling? I think you’ll find that you can.
Self-care is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself. Taking the time to do something(s) important to you is a necessity, not a waste of time. Without proper care, even a car will fall apart. A living organism needs care, love and attention. Moms are great at so many things, but giving themselves time and attention is often not among those skills.
I dearly love my kids. I love the time we spend together and the things we do. I genuinely like taking care of them. I like listening to them and hearing their stories and spending time learning their games. Okay, I’m not going to say I like taking care of the various household tasks that are a part of running the house, but I don’t mind them. Even though now we have household help to take part of the load, it is still my job to do it. And I am good at my job. One thing I have learned – and sadly, I have learned this the hard way – unless I take the time to exercise every morning, I am not going to be as patient or as loving with my kids. I need this time; this is my self-care. I need my endorphins. They get me through the day. Be it a 5-mile run or a 40-minute yoga session, I know I need this. So I organize my day around being able to do it. I get up early enough to do this exercise before the kids get up. I try to get some of the morning tasks done at night to simplify my mornings. I get to bed at a decent time that allows me to get enough sleep so that I can get up early. During the day, I take care of the tasks that I can while the kids are at school so that I don’t have to do them in the morning or after the kids’ bedtime. This is for me. And it’s important.
Self-care doesn’t have to be exercise. It can be an art class, or learning a new skill. It can be taking the time for a walk each day. It can be taking the time to stop at your favorite coffee shop on a regular basis. It can be writing in a journal. Whatever it is, it’s important to you, and it feeds you. Take it from me, moms and dads. You are important, too. Give the kids the love and attention they deserve, but don’t forget about you: give yourself the love and attention you deserve, too. I promise you’ll be a better parent for it.