As a parent, you may have subconsciously developed a habit of forgetting to prioritise your own needs. Or perhaps you believe you simply do not have enough time to spend on yourself due to work and family demands. We are so busy that the thought of thinking of one more thing like self-care triggers us to become overwhelmed. Perhaps if we looked at the idea of self-care moments it would appear to be more manageable? No matter how busy you are, it is not wise to neglect yourself and your needs.
Note: you can practice self-care with your children present. Self-care does not have to mean ´without children´
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is an intentional act of nourishing yourself to strengthen or maintain your overall wellbeing. Self-care is about replacing self-judgements and comparisons with self-compassion and acceptance. Furthermore, it is an individual responsibility that needs to be integrated into our daily lives consistently to form part of a healthy lifestyle.
It does not need to be complicated, expensive or a long period of time to have a positive impact on your wellbeing. Self-care can be a quick and fun activity, looking after your physical needs, or anything that gives you a feeling of satisfaction.
What are Self-Care Moments?
Self-care moments is about grabbing 5 to 15 minutes windows of time throughout the day and being intentional with how you spend these moments of time. You can intentionally choose to focus on an act of self-care that meets your needs or choose something else less important than your health/wellbeing. If your children are present, they can join you in the act of self-care.
Neglecting self-care leads to burnout — a state of being completely overwhelmed by stress and fatigue.
Build a Healthy Foundation.
There are plenty of self-care habits that apply to ALL of us.
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
- Eat a balanced, nutritional diet.
- Drink plenty of water.
However, there are a variety of much smaller self-care moments that we can access when we are short of time or need a pick me up throughout the day. The important thing is to find a balance of activities that work for you. Collectively, these moments all add up to a greater amount of time, thus meeting our needs.
A Guide to Self-Care Moments.
To begin, we are all unique. We have different gifts, preferences, circumstances, and challenges, so there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to self-care. Below I have listed a variety of ideas that you can implement to manage or prevent stress and exhaustion in ways that are beneficial to our overall well-being. You could use these ideas to create a self-care menu of go-to strategies that work for you.
Boost your mood.
- Listen to a favourite song.
- Watch a funny YouTube video.
- Call a loved one.
- Take a shower.
- Go for a walk.
- Practice gratitude.
- Read an inspiring quote or affirmation.
- Play with your child or pet.
To combat overwhelm.
- Write a prioritised to-do list.
- Take breaks from your computer, phone, or social media.
- Learn to say no to others.
- De-clutter a room.
- Tidy your workspace.
- Take a small break between work tasks.
- Drink some water.
- Eat a healthy snack.
- Eat lunch in a park.
- Ask for help / delegate tasks.
- Sit with your thoughts and feelings for 5 mins.
- Celebrate small moments.
- Guided meditation.
- Breathing exercises.
- Work on a puzzle.
- Have a warm drink.
- Light a candle.
- Mindful colouring.
- Diffuse some essential oils.
- Walk outside.
- Stretch your body.
- Follow a video workout.
- Dance to some music.
- Try a DIY project.
How to Practice Self-Care with Kids.
A reminder, you can take care of your needs whilst your children are present. Here are a few ideas to show you what it may look like if you practice self-care with your children present.
- If you need a creative outlet, your children could help you bake, they could work on their own drawing while you draw and so on.
- If you need to move, your children could join you on a walk or participate with the video workout.
- Nap while your child naps.
- Colour while your child colours.
- Older children could even journal while you are journaling.
Fundamentally, it is all about how you intentionally use your time. Modelling to your children how they can take care of themselves is a gift that will serve them throughout their lives. The idea that self-care must be practiced alone and away from children is simply not true.
Finding Time for Self-Care Moments.
Firstly, if you really feel like you do not have time, not even 5 minutes, you need to analyse your schedule. Conduct a time audit – how to do really spend your time. Keep a diary to track your activities throughout the day for five days during the week. Once you see how you’re spending most of each day, you can optimize your schedule by identifying if you need to find ways to increase your productivity or efficiency.
Some common timewasters are:
- Social media.
- Meetings that always run over-schedule.
- Commuting (work, dropping off/picking up kids).
- Trying to multi-task.
- Lack of planning (meals, cleaning, grocery list).
Some common ways to combat timewasters.
- Shared responsibility for household chores.
- Allocate a window of time for social media – set an alarm to stop scrolling.
- Set boundaries of no interruptions for your work time (no call, texts, emails).
- Implement systems for creating a grocery list, weekly meal plan or weekly cleaning tasks.
In summary, with some slight changes to your habits and schedule, you can easily avoid these timewasters and transform into the productive person who has time for self-care moments. By taking care of yourself, you are in a better position to take care of your children. If you are a parent who is juggling work and childcare read this post for some practical tips.
A Final Word.
Finally, don’t feel guilty about taking time to care for yourself. It’s not selfish to make your health a priority. You will be better equipped to care for loved ones when you are healthy, and it is a great skill to model to your children. It is a skill they can implement to improve their health throughout their life.
Authentic and sustainable self-care begins with you!
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You can watch my interview with Your Teen Mag on ‘Creating Self-Care Moments´ here.
Disclaimer: These activities are not a substitute for seeing a mental health professional. Sometimes we need outside help and advice.