Self care is a term we hear more and more these days, but what does it really mean? And when you're a busy parent is there really any such thing? Well, yes! Self care is just that- taking care of YOU. And if there is anyone better qualified for being in need than parents, I'd like to know who! It's so easy to forget to take care of ourselves when we're super busy looking after small people, but remember that a rested parent is a better parent, so anything you do for you today will benefit the little ones later. So take our cue, grab a cuppa and read on to find out how you can practise self care right now.
Sleep deprivation sucks
Being sleep deprived is awful! It makes us irritable, less able to concentrate, more likely to make mistakes, and lethargic. Not only that but it can hinder weight loss, cause stress and low moods, plus hinder our body's ability to recover from injury or trauma. So a sleep deprived new parent is really not starting off on the right foot! Sleep deprivation can be miserable, and it's when we're so tired that we most need to care for ourselves. Sometimes though we can get caught up in a cycle of feeling so tired but feeling we should be doing more... sound familiar? Well, stop!
YOU need love too
In case nobody has told you recently, you deserve to be looked after just as much as the kids do. You matter just as much as they do. Telling yourself that and believing it is the first step. So, how can you practise some self care right now? Here's five easy steps:
- Say YES more. Someone offers to hold the baby while you take a shower? Yes. Someone offers to clean the dishes from last night that you just haven't had the energy to do but feel really embarrassed about? Yes. Someone asks if you'd like to meet for coffee? Yes. Its not always easy to do, but consider making time for small changes in your every day, and do things that you would normally say no to once in a while. It can be liberating!
- Accept help. We all want to feel in control of every aspect of our lives, but sometimes we just have to accept that it can't always happen like that. We also all want others to believe we have control over everything too, so admitting that we need help is rarely top of our 'fun things to do' list. But honestly, every parent around has needed help now and then. The happier parents are the ones who figured it out sooner. Admitting you need help is not a failure of any kind. It's accepting that some things are so big, it needs a few of you to rally round now and then.
- Lower your standards. This was a piece of advice given to me several times, by many different people, before I decided to take heed. It doesn't mean that you should immediately drop everything you care about, but it does mean taking stock of what your expectation are and working out whether or not they're realistic. If you're beating yourself up because you can't produce home cooked meals every night and read with your older children too, then weigh up what short cuts can be taken to make you happy. Maybe you batch cook at the weekends so that you can re-heat through the week? Maybe your child reads with someone else for now? I you're striving for an ideal that you can't achieve right now, it's only going to make you feel miserable when you 'fail'. So move the goal posts a little closer for now.
- Say thank you more. Sometimes self care begins when we start to realise just what we have in our lives and what we need to be grateful for. Ok, so the house is a mess and you haven't slept properly for months, but life is more than that. Get into the practise of writing down what you're thankful for on a regular basis, and watch how your perception of life begins to alter. Trust us, this really works!
- Love yourself. It's not as cheesy as it sounds. But seriously, if you don't love yourself then why should anyone else? Start your day with a smile in the mirror, and see what happens.
- Note: when we're tired our perceptions of well meaning advice isn't always entirely positive... if these tips don't do it for you, please bookmark this page and come back another day :)