Taking Care of Yourself So You Can Take Care of the Kids

Taking Care of Yourself So You Can Take Care of the Kids

As parents, we often feel that taking care of our children is the most important thing that we have to do. And it is. But in order to be able to take excellent care of our children, we have to take that same of level of care for ourselves. We are not going to be able to make good decisions and be nurturing when we are over-tired, stressed, and grumpy!

How do we take time for ourselves in the middle of getting our kids to school with all the right materials, going to work to support our families, and cooking, cleaning and doing laundry somewhere in between? Even the experts agree that it is not easy. But studies overwhelmingly show that parents who get enough sleep, feel happy themselves, and are not stressed are more likely to have positive relationships with their children.

It is important to realize that self-care is not about taking a spa day every now and again. Self-care has to be a regular, everyday part of your routine.

One of the keys to being able to practice regular self-care is to start by pairing a new self-care routine with one of your old habits. This powerful advice comes from Angela Watson  who gives the example of putting on your favorite song that energizes you when you get into the car in the morning. That way, getting into the car will act as a signal for you to start your self-care routine and after a while, turning on that song will become a habit. She also notes that it is easy to skip new habits before they get fully established. You probably would not skip brushing your teeth in the morning, but you might put off the 15 minutes that you have scheduled for yourself to have your coffee before the kids get up. She suggests that you stay focused on how following your decision to practice your self-care routine today will help you far into the future.

Practicing self-care habits doesn’t need to add to your budget or take a huge chunk out of your schedule. Self-care routines can be simple. You could decide to take 20 minutes before you go to bed at night to read or to have a warm bath. You could take a morning “tea break”. Using a “buddy system” to schedule and practice self-care can be a powerful way to start a new habit. Take an hour each week to meet a friend for lunch or a walk. You get the benefits of strengthening your social relationship and you help your friend to practice self-care, too!  For a neat list of things you can do as self-care routines, check out this post.

One of the most essential things to remember about self-care is that taking time for yourself is NOT taking time away from your kids. Doing good things for yourself will benefit your children by helping to make you a calmer, refreshed and tuned-in parent. It will also set a good example for your children about how they can care for themselves now and in the future when they are parents. And this is a lesson that can last through the generations!

Resources cited:

Self-Care for Parents: https://www.scanva.org/support-for-parents/parent-resource-center-2/self-care-for-parents/

25 Simple Self-Care Tools for Parents: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/joyful-parenting/201708/25-simple-self-care-tools-parents

Why It’s So Hard for Teachers to Take Care of Themselves (and 4 Ways to Start): https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/teacher-self-care/

 

Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.

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