Make Time for Yourself as a Parent – Everyone Will Benefit!

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To continue on with my previous “take care of yourself” rant, I wanted to add a new dimension. This time directed at parents. Why? Because when people become parents, nothing matters more than taking excellent care of the newborn.

Mom & Dad with Newborn

Today’s culture demands that we be completely absorbed in our children. After baby is born, and often during pregnancy too, the only person that matters is that child. You are dirt to society. Unfortunately, that mind set has paved the way for Little Emperor Syndrome, and for children who fail to launch—unheard of in developing countries where kids are treated with a kind of benign neglect.

While ignoring our kids certainly isn’t the right answer, neither is ignoring ourselves. Make time for yourself as a parent, and give yourself these small dignities:

Love yourself first

Parenting is hard work at the best of times. With children those times can quickly go for merely challenging to outright frustrating. To help ease that frustration, set a little time aside for yourself and enforce that time. It could be that morning cup of coffee where children toddler age and up are not allowed in the room you’ve holed up in, or a hot shower while the other half looks after their needs. (Lock the door.)

To be the best parent you can be you have to make time for yourself, and use that time. You have to make sure you take care of you so that you stay healthy and sane enough to take care of them.

Develop boundaries

Children need boundaries. They want them and they will push until they find them. This is why if yuou have ever even once said yes to candy in the grocery line, they will now ask every time for the rest of their lives. The word “no” isn’t always easy when that cute toddler is looking up at you wanting you to entertain her instead of doing the dishes. It’s hard when your little boy is pointing to the cookie jar for his third cookie (Oops.) However, she can learn to entertain herself and even if your kid thinks he needs enough sugar power to walk on the walls, you probably don’t need that in your life.

“Yes” can be hard as well. Yes, you do have to go to bed on time. Yes, you do have to do your homework, finish your chores or clean your room. These boundaries are needed by both you and them.

No parenting on the toilet

Yes, children can get into trouble fast but that doesn’t mean they should follow you into the bathroom. You should be able to pee without having to mediate between your children. If you need to use the bathroom, lock the door. Chances are good the first 756 times you do it they’ll stand there and pound on the door, but this is a boundary that is incredibly important. After all, what happens when they are in school and think it’s okay to walk in on another child? Parents are people, too and privacy is important.

Going out

Everybody needs time off. Going out without the kids is imperative. You may make a solo trip to the coffee shop, go out with the girls (or boys) or even have a date. Doing grown up things, having conversations that use words of more than two syllables and just relaxing will make you a better parent.

Going out the first time may be scary. What if something happens while you’re gone? Will the babysitter know what to do? What if the sitter is mean? This can lead to you checking in every half hour. If it makes you feel better, do it, but try to find someone to watch the kids that makes you feel comfortable enough to relax and be an adult again.

If you’ve ever lost a child, leaving them can feel impossible, even for a few minutes. There are several wonderful tools you can use to make this easier. Consider getting an Owlet to track newborns, or a nanny cam so you can peek whenever you want to. The relief can be just what you need to truly relax.

Get enough rest

This can be a hard one with kids. You may have to tell your child that they have to forfeit their bedtime story because they stalled so long in the bathroom. It’s possible that the dinner dishes will have to stay in the sink overnight or that the extra load of laundry your kids created by dumping everything on the floor will have to wait until the morning.

This is more than just about not being a zombie the next day. Studies show that those who don’t get enough sleep have lower immunity and can develop significant health problems. If you want to be around to spoil your grandchildren, you need to rest.

Communicate with your partner

For those who aren’t single parents, talking to your partner about balancing childcare duties is a good idea. You can trade off carpooling, who gets up in the middle of the night and who has to be the bad cop.

You also need to be on the same page about rules and boundaries. Your partner can’t help you have the kids in bed by eight p.m. if bedtimes are a mystery. You can’t have backup for the ‘no third cookie’ policy if it isn’t known. It’s also a lot easier to get in that leisurely bubble bath if you know someone is keeping an eye on the kids. Who knows, you might even get to break out the bath set and use that fancy scrubber.

You have to love yourself and take care of yourself so you can take care of your children. They need you to do that. They’ll grow up happier and healthier. They’ll also learn from you that they have to love themselves.


You Matter – Take Care of Yourself

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There is a certain stigma associated with taking care of yourself. We are taught from the earliest age to take care of others, and that putting ourselves first is selfish. By the time we are adults, we are so brainwashed into putting others first we tend to assume only others matter. This is a very unhealthy way to look at things, and it can cause more harm than good. Yes, even to the others we have been taught to cherish over even ourselves.

Flight attendants teach us that in an emergency, we should put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we help children with their masks. The reason being is that if you don’t take care of yourself first, you could pass out before being able to help others. This is a good analogy for life also. While taking care of others is important, if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be able to help others.

Taking care of yourself might feel over indulgent, but by doing so you will be in a better frame of mind to help others. Here are a few tips you can use to improve your mental well being.

Meditate

Some people might scoff at the idea of meditation, but meditating has been scientifically proven to provide a range of benefits. Meditation can not only help you feel better and ease mental health issues, it can also change the brain itself. It’s also a simple, everyday thing you can do at home to destress.

Destress While Meditating

Meditation can be as simple as spending a few minutes concentrating on your breathing, letting thoughts run through your mind, accepting them, and letting them go. You don’t have to make your inner voice completely silent, or wrestle with focusing on objects if it is too difficult for you. There are even meditation apps that help guide you through the process if you have never meditated before.

Meditation is a great option you can do to put yourself in a positive frame of mind every day.

Get rid of negative self talk

That voice in your head is the person you spend the most time listening to. Our internal monologue is something we hear all day every day until sleep silences it. It just makes sense that the person you are with every day (yourself!) is a nice person to be around. Tearing yourself apart over every little thing just makes you miserable, and there is simply no reason to do it.

Stop Negative Self Talk

This is another change that is extremely easy and free to implement. Simply pay more attention to what you are thinking to yourself, and correct how you say it if you notice negative self talk. For example, instead of:

“I suck at presentations and I’m never going to get better!”

Think, “Presentations are something I need to work on, but I’m getting better every time.”

If you wouldn’t phrase your self talk the same way referring to someone you respect, why would you do it to yourself? You are with yourself all the time, it doesn’t make sense to make that person an overly critical bully.

Take time to relax

You don’t have to fill every second of your day with business in order to have a valid experience. Taking a little bit of time every day for yourself is important for your mental wellbeing. This is especially a struggle for stay at home parents who feel like they can’t go to the bathroom alone, let alone take a 30 minute bath. Still, asking your partner to take the kids for a few minutes while you spend a little personal time with your scrubber (I highly recommend this one) can give you the mental strength to finish the rest of the day.

Mom taking a long bath

If you are a single parent, this can be even harder, but reach out to your network. That personal time is vital to your health, and also the health of your children. Being a single parent is extremely stressful, and so taking some “me” time is even more vital.

We have all fallen into the trap of thinking that we don’t matter, even to ourselves. We think that if we decide we are good people worthy of attention and respect that it makes us somehow arrogant. The truth is that valuing yourself as a person makes you better able to deal with life, and makes you a better person overall. Make the world a better place and start giving yourself that important self care you deserve.

In Family

Bonding Over Popcorn & Gilmore Girls

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A couple weeks ago my granddaughter – a beautiful ten year old – stayed at my place for a couple days. In the midst of our conversation one evening about shows she loves to watch, she mentioned “Gilmore Girls” as being one of her favorites.

popcorn-gilmore-girlsI was surprised. I used to watch that show religiously from beginning to end. So I was happy to find yet one more thing my granddaughter and I had in common.

“Can we watch it?” she asked. I said “I don’t think we will find the reruns on TV anywhere. It’s been gone for too long!”

“Not the old one, Grandma. I meant the new Gilmore girls!” she giggled. “New one?” I asked.

Long story short, I wasn’t aware of the fact that they are restarting the show this year. I was thrilled.

Needless to say I dug up my old Lekue popcorn machine, popped a couple bowls of corn, seasoned it with butter, salt, and a pinch of pepper (soooo goood!) and sat down with my granddaughter to watch (rewatch for her) a few episodes of Gilmore Girls via “Instant Watch”.

Sure it costs me a few cents, but the new found bond with my granddaughter was worth every penny of it. In fact, we agreed to get together once per week to watch the new Gilmore Girls when it comes out later this year 🙂

I’m excited!

In Family