A Guide to Wellbeing for Parents
As soon as children arrive, the needs of the parents tend to go out of the window. The little ones take priority, and often it simply becomes a case of surviving the day, week, month, year…
It’s particularly hard to put anything other than the care of your child first – especially in the early days. As the children grow, the list does too.
It’s not only looking after the kids, partner, house, and pets but there’s also nursery or school admin, organising childcare, playdates, taxiing children to their hobbies or planning birthday parties – and that’s before any mention of a job! Naturally, parents let their social lives, gym memberships and hair appointments fall by the wayside.
Six Parenting Self Care Essentials
Self-care and wellness are important issues that mustn’t be swept under the rug.
Ignoring your own warning signals can create a downward spiral; you might start to feel stressed, guilty, impatient, and overwhelmed by situations that might normally be a walk in the park.
In general, society is now more aware of the need to look after ourselves, our mental health and general well-being. This is even more important in a time where we are working from home more, seeing people less, and living in a constant state of flux.
That is why being mindful of our own internal needs is crucial for a balanced and happy parent.
That’s the key, you see – self-care isn’t a spa day or luxury holiday.
It’s being kind to your body and mind.
It’s saying ‘no’ when you’re already running on empty.
It’s making your life that little bit easier where possible.
It’s about taking time out to stop and do something you enjoy.
It is also finding the right support to help you through challenges.
Beating the January blues
After the fun and excitement of Christmas, January hits hard.
From a mood perspective, sadness can kick in throughout January. The dreaded credit card bills all begin to arrive, and within a few days the diets have usually subsided.
So, it’s even more important to look after yourself on those dark and cold nights, once the decorations have all come down.
Self-care for parents
Here are our tips on how to prevent the blues and make time for self-care and well-being in January.
Eat a balanced diet. This isn’t about cutting out sugar, caffeine or any kind of taste. It’s about mindful eating for 80-90% of the time, packing your plate with delicious wholesome foods. For the other 10-20%, allow yourself a little of what you love. You’ll find that it’s a much more enjoyable attitude to food, and one which you are likely to stick with beyond the second week.
Take regular exercise. A no-brainer, especially if you’ve been stuck indoors a lot. Make a daily walk part of your routine, enjoying some time with the whole family. Perhaps it’s a lunchtime wander to break the day up and help your baby to sleep, or maybe it’s an evening stroll around the village to wear the kids out before bedtime. Whatever it is, wrap up warm and enjoy spotting the changes that the new season has brought.
Get to bed early. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture for a reason. Without sleep, our bodies struggle to function. If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed during the day, and relying on coffee to get you through, you need more sleep. Set yourself a bedtime alarm early enough to cleanse and moisturise, brush your teeth, and perhaps read a book. Set yourself a sleep goal of 8 hours. Of course, this might not happen, but if you get to bed early and do end up waking up before your alarm, you’ve at least got a few hours already under your belt.
Plan. Break your endless ‘to do’ list into more manageable chunks, and then organise them into:
- Urgent. Do these tasks straight away. For example: book gym class, pay childminder, book doctor’s appointment.
- Not urgent. You decide when these tasks need to be done, such as: batch cook next week’s meals, or organise next week’s play date.
- Any time. These are tasks that can be picked up if you have a minute. For example: sort through clothes for charity shop, or paint the fence.
Go easy on yourself and try to only complete one or two tasks. It’ll feel much nicer to have achieved a couple of things in a day, rather than getting swamped and accomplishing nothing.
Get organised. Look for time saving hacks in the mountain of tasks. For example, you could break housework down into smaller jobs, make and freeze sandwiches to make school lunches easier, or organise school bags and uniforms the night before to avoid the school-run panic.
Reach out. Parenthood is incredibly rewarding, but it is very hard. Self-care includes putting time aside to spend with friends; going for coffee with a friend, or, if you’re housebound, inviting them to yours in the evening when the kids are in bed. Nothing beats the company of another adult, and it can really help to have someone to talk through your problems with.
And finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Though you’re tasked with looking after your little one 24/7, make sure that you’re looking after yourself too.
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