As a parent, you probably find most of your day is spent taking care of other people. Those sweet little children that call you “mom” can be pretty demanding. And while the work is rewarding in many ways, it can also be challenging. You may find that you’re constantly pushing your own activities and interests to the back burner in order to make sure that everyone else has what they need. And if you’re not careful, you may find that your mental health starts to suffer.
If you’re feeling a little stressed and burnt out, you’re not alone. It can be common for parents to experience this. And that’s one reason why self-care is so important. “Self-care” includes all the things that you do for yourself to help you feel your best.
If you’ve been struggling lately, the following self-care strategies may help.
1. Take breaks
It’s hard to get any alone time as a mom. Everywhere you go, little ones seem to be following behind. Even when you go to the bathroom, the kids are at the door. It may seem like taking a break isn’t realistic, but sometimes it’s necessary.
If your children are young enough to nap still, use that quiet time for yourself. Don’t feel pressured to run around and clean up the house before they wake up and tear it apart once again.
You may also find it helpful to have someone stay with your kids for a short time so you can get out and have some time to yourself. If you don’t have the budget for a babysitter, find another mom and swap time with her. You can watch all the kids for a few hours one day and then on another day she can watch all the kids. Not only can this help with your self-care but it allows you to help another mom out as well.
2. Do something that makes you feel like you
Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you need to lose who you used to be pre-kiddos. Make time to do hobbies that you enjoy. Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you need to do everything with your kids.
This could be going to a spin class, having time to craft, or putting on lipstick every day even though you have absolutely nowhere to go. Think about what helps you feel like that person you were before kids and don’t forget to include those things in your life.
3. Use positive affirmations
Negative self-talk can be a real struggle for everyone, including moms. It can be easy to get caught up in playing the comparison game and then knocking yourself down for all the ways you aren’t “good enough” as a mom.
Maybe you yelled at your daughter when she refused to put her socks on before leaving for school. Or maybe the toys are scattered all over the house and you can’t find the sink under all the dirty dishes and you feel like a failure because that mom always has her house in order.
Using positive affirmations on a regular basis can help you transform your self-talk and improve your mental health. Here are a few that can get you started:
- I will let go off my expectations for today and embrace the direction it goes in.
- In all the chaos, my house is full of love.
- The house may be dirty, but my children are happy. clothed, fed, and loved.
- I trust my mother’s intuition and make good choices for my family.
- By taking care of myself, I can do a better job of taking care of my family.
- I’m doing my best and that’s enough for today.
4. Exercise and eat right
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be about “getting your pre-baby body back” or anything like that. You don’t need to jump into some rigorous workout routine. But doing some form of exercise can be great for your mental health.
When you get your body moving, your brain releases chemicals that help you feel happier and less stressed. This can be through hiking, dancing, weight lifting, cardio classes and even just going for a walk. Find a way to move that you enjoy and then include it into your regular routine.
Bonus points if you exercise with a friend. This can give you a chance to enjoy some social connection with another adult while releasing all those happy endorphins.
When it comes to eating, do your best to make good choices. If you have a new baby in the house, you may struggle with eating at all. The day may fly by and before you know it, it’s evening and you haven’t gotten around to having a meal yet. Do your best to keep up with your meals because your body needs that food to function at its best.
Try including fruits and vegetables into your meals. Choose whole foods when possible. And make sure you stay hydrated.
5. Talk to a therapist
There are many different challenges that parents face. It may be from the events of the pandemic or it may just be from life situations. If you feel like you’re struggling with your mental health, self-care options are helpful, but it may also be helpful to talk to a professional.
If it’s difficult for you to get out of the house without the kids for therapy, you can use an online therapist like MyTherapist. These services allow you to get counseling from the comfort of your home at a time that works for you.
Don’t underestimate the importance of self-care
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you’ve heard the explanation of what to do if the oxygen masks drop. You’re always supposed to put on your own mask before helping those around you, including your children. The reason for this is that if you end up passing out, you’re not going to be able to help anyone. But if you put your mask on, you will have what you need to help those around you.
Self-care is the same way. If you always try to help those around you—your kids—without taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to have the same helpful impact. Self-care is not selfish. It’s important for you and your family.