As a parent, you play many different roles- most of them at the same time! You’re a teacher, chef, nurse, chauffer, cleaner and an expert in conflict resolution.
But before you became a parent, you were just you. You are still you, but the many hats of parenthood plus full or part time work can make it way too easy to put your own needs on the backburner.
We’ve all heard that we should “take five minutes to yourself” but how? Some days even having a sip of water without being interrupted is impossible, let alone five whole minutes.
You want to do the best for your child, but their own wellness starts with yours, and you’re not helping anyone by burning yourself out.
You can’t pour from an empty cup, so let’s have a look at some practical ways you can fill your own cup first.
Drop the guilt
Who would have thought that being a parent comes with so much guilt?
“Mum guilt” and “dad guilt” are terms that describe the feeling that you’re somehow failing as a parent, and it’s one of the quickest ways to destroy your wellbeing.
It’s natural to wonder if you’re doing the right thing but parental guilt takes this to another level. With hashtags like #mumgoals and #dadgoals floating around social media, it’s alarmingly easy to feel like we’re failing at being a parent.
Setting unrealistic parenting standards purely out of guilt doesn’t help anyone, so how do we stop feeling so guilty about everything?
Try setting realistic expectations for yourself and your family and celebrate the wins, however small. If all you did today was get the kids off to school on time, celebrate that.
By focussing on what you’re proud of and realising that though some things might not go to plan, you have the best intentions for your children in your heart.
It might take some practice, but it’s well worth the effort- everyone will benefit from you being a little kinder to yourself, especially you.
Fuel your body
How many times have you packed a delicious nutritious lunch for your kids but didn’t eat lunch yourself?
Eating well affects every part of your life, with poor diets wreaking havoc on every part of your wellbeing.
Try to make eating well a priority in your day, not just for your children, even if all you can do is grab a piece of fruit on your way out the door. It’s better for you than something loaded full of fat and sugar you can pick up at the shop later on.
The more you care for your body, the more you will find yourself being able to be present and active in not only your child’s life, but your own as well, with more energy to do the things you enjoy.
How often do you get the chance to just…exist?
There’s this annoying perception that we always have to be doing something, but just sitting on the couch with no pressure to do anything in particular is one of the best ways to give your mind and body a much-needed break.
Set a timer for five or ten minutes a day and just sit with your thoughts, letting yourself feel whatever comes into your mind and have a bit of a breather.
Sometimes accepting help can feel a little like losing control, and as a parent that’s not something you want to lose.
Accepting help can be uncomfortable, but it can make life so much easier.
Past generations had larger communities where people helped each other raise kids, with everyone pitching in with chores and childcare. Families with multiple generations living under the one roof also benefitted from this sense of family and community.
These days we live more isolated lives, and the washing, cooking, cleaning, bath time, bedtime and life admin falls squarely on our tired shoulders.
We are not designed to have this many things on our plate, and sooner you start to accept help, the better you’ll feel.
Find an independent hobby
You love your kids but being needed all the time is exhausting, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling that way.
Having a hobby that’s just for you is a fantastic way to learn a new skill and take time out.
Whether it’s drawing, knitting, gardening, hitting the gym or just sitting down with a book, doing things you enjoy is essential in making sure you’re not neglecting yourself, your needs or your interests.
Everyone benefits when you look after yourself. Making sure your own needs are met makes it easier to be active and present in the lives of your children, having an enormously positive effect on their wellness.