Children contribute to our lives in so many ways. We experience fun, joy, wonder, and connectedness with them. But life with young children can also bring fatigue and frustration. You spend so much energy on their needs that it’s hard to meet your own.
Over time, neglecting to keep up with your own needs—such as spending time with friends, fitting in exercise, and eating well—can leave you feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and even depressed. You may find yourself not able to parent as well as you’d like to.
Research tells us that there are special benefits for children when their parents take good care of themselves. Learn about these benefits and how you can balance your own child’s needs with your own needs.
Taking care of yourself is a learning process. You start by recognizing that it’s not only OK to take care of your own needs but it’s important. Then, you can look for opportunities to take care of yourself, including exercising, getting enough sleep, eating well; and making time for friends and personal interests.
When you care for yourself, you have more to give to your child. The best kind of self-care is often the simplest, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either. It just needs to be something you do regularly that nourishes your soul and “fills your cup,” whether it’s painting, reading, or hiking.
Start by setting some goals for yourself. This could include:
• Plan activities that take care of myself physically
• Plan activities that take care of myself socially and emotionally
• Participate in activities that stimulate me intellectually
• Write in your own goal
Then, make an action plan to meet these goals. This could include:
• Build in alone time for myself
• Connect with friends and family through phone or Internet
• Have regular adult time with partner/another adult friend
• Read one chapter of a book per day
• Write in a journal
• Listen to music
Once your goals and action plan are set, ask yourself: “What is getting in the way of me taking care of myself physically, emotionally, and intellectually?” Then, think about some ways you can overcome these obstacles.
When you care for yourself, you are a good role model for your child, and you teach them to care for themselves, too! And best of all, you keep yourself happier and healthier so you can be there for your child.
This article appeared in the November issue of Oregon Family Magazine.