For many parents it can feel like you are on a treadmill that is never switched off. On Monday you might be asked, how was your weekend? You look in amazement at the person and try to think, the weekend, when was that? Whether sharing parenting, parenting alone, when your children are very young or teenagers, it never stops. Keeping on top of it all is very challenging and we often forget to be mindful of our own well being. We laugh at the though of it. Obviously the person who coined the term ‘self care’ has no children!
But here it is again – self care. If you can’t find the time to look after yourself and your needs, what type of parent will you be? You may be coping alright now, but how long until the batteries run dry? We all have areas in our lives that are not going too well, sometimes it is because we don’t have the energy or time to put into them.
This summer, could you take on the challenge of trying to do one thing for yourself each day? It is just for you now, but really it is an investment in your ability to parent and thus in your children. They need parents who can stay on the treadmill for a very long time.
Here are some ideas to help get you started:
- Take a 30 minutes walk, once a week: on your own ideally or bring the buggie if you must. It helps clear the mind and keep you feeling energised. This will also give you time to see the world and possibly bump into the neighbours for a chat.
- Read a book that is not about fairies and princesses and superheroes. Can you find an hour a week to read a chapter? Connect to the adult world around you. It is amazing how we forget it exists. This will also give you something to talk about. We often think if we did meet someone, what would we talk about? Our lives are so focused on our children, it’s easy to forget how to have adult conversations.
- Join a parent and toddler group. Even though children are with you, it allows great opportunities to talk with other parents and possibly widen your social circle. Some groups are great at organising trips and events. Check in with your local community center, community bulletin/newsletter and even the local shop notice boards to find groups near you.
- Use a drop in crèche for one hour a week. Can you budget to allow yourself one hour off a week? You can just sit and think, plan, read or drink coffee. Basically, this is one hour for you to stay still.
- Can you arrange for a relative to take your children once a month? One day off or if you are really lucky one night off is a great opportunity to recharge the batteries. A night of undisturbed sleep does wonders for the body and mind. Then you will feel ready for the children again when they return.
- If your children go to their other parent, can you do things in this time for yourself? Many parents use this time to cook, freeze dinners, clean and get ready for another week. Even though this will make the next week run smoother it does not really count as time spent for you. Think about what hobbies you had as a child, or something you wished you had done. Can you join a club – a walking club, book club, hobby or maybe even a study group? Have you had time to think about what you want for you?
- We take a lot of time to plan what our children will eat. Have they eaten their 5 a day? We challenge the other parent to reduce the intake of junk food. But how often do you look at your diet. Can you take some time to plan your 5 a day? You are your child’s best role model after all.
- Can you arrange a babysitter club? It does not have to be at night time as it depends on what you enjoy doing. Can your friend take your child for a few hours to allow you some time and then you do the same for them?
- Many parents buy too many clothes for their children. Do they really need all these clothes? Do they notice what they wear? Why not put some time in to your own wardrobe? What could you do with getting? At times we avoid going out and about as we feel we have nothing to wear. It would be a great resource for your child to have a parent who is confident in how they look.
- Ask for help. Parenting is very challenging no matter what form your family takes. Seek out supports. Access professional parenting supports like parenting courses or one to one mentoring – One Family have parenting supports available in many locations both in Dublin and in other. Don’t go it alone when others would love to be invited to join you. (See below for more information on One Family parenting supports.)
This summer take time for you. It may seem selfish at first, but your children will be the ultimate winners when you succeed.
This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.
Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Parent Self Care
LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Tuesday 14 July from 10am-11pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.
Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.