Self-Care Escape: Time Out For Parents
When traveling by air, most of us are familiar with the directives we receive from flight attendants. One message that always resonates with me is, “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” The same is true in life when as a parent, you must practice self-care before taking on responsibility for others. Taking time out restores self-esteem and replenishes the energy levels needed to be a good parent, partner, or coworker. Wearing yourself down and putting yourself last on the list does nothing positive for your family—in fact, it can create an unhealthy environment for everyone.
Let’s clear something up right away. Self-care should never be mistaken for self-indulgence or self-centered behavior. It is, in fact, simply reconnecting with yourself and providing the necessary stimulation (or sometimes lack thereof) you need as an individual. Too many times people get lost in the role of being a parent and forget they are first and foremost, individuals. Parental responsibilities are a labor of love, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t demanding and require a great deal of effort.
Lists get long, schedules get chaotic, and losing track of what you need can cause a stressful situation that can become emotionally charged. Giving too much, too often, can also create simmering resentment and ill-timed explosions of anger. This is particularly true if you have an unrealistic idea of perfection for your family life. Putting undue pressure on yourself is perhaps the most unfair sentence you can pass upon family members, because your stress rolls downhill and will perhaps land on your partner and ultimately your children.
How do you know when you’re in need of self-care?
Watch for extremes:
- Am I sleeping too little or too much?
- Am I skipping meals, or do I sometimes binge uncontrollably?
- Am I feeling emotional extremes—high-highs or low-lows?
- I am highly insecure and anxious or overly confident and too assertive?
- Am I overly social or completely withdrawn?
- Am I over-the-top passionate or burned out and checked out?
- Am I short-tempered and critical, or overly sensitive, and easily hurt?
If you can identify with any of these feelings, you are likely out of balance and you need to take part in some self-care to regain your center.
To accomplish that, try one or more of the following:
- Make time for some for yourself—spend it on your own in a sanctuary of your choice
- Go for a walk, a swim, or take a yoga class—move and stretch your body
- Read a book or watch a movie that allows you to escape
- Listen to your favorite music
- Do something creative-write, paint, sculpt, sing, dance, sew, collage, cook, or bake
- Listen to a podcast on a subject that interests you or listen to a good book on tape
- Volunteer—helping others is very uplifting and gratifying and serves as a reminder of your blessings
- Make an appointment for aesthetic care, such as a salon or spa service
- Enjoy a meal, a glass of wine, or a coffee drink on your own or with a favorite person
- Contact a trusted friend or family member who is “a soft place to land” and have a great conversation–seek advice, vent frustration, or laugh with them
- Journal your feelings and impressions—writing is cathartic
- Write a letter or send a card to a treasured friend or family member
- Spend quality time with a pet—seeing their joy multiplies your own
- Make a list of things that make you happy—acknowledge your blessings
- Enjoy a date night with your spouse or a girl’s night out with friends
- Take a vacation to recharge your mojo—a week or a weekend—it’s all healing
When you decide to schedule some self-care, remember that we’re here for you at Kids Quest. We’ll take the kids while you enjoy some time on your own, a date night, adult family time, or a girl’s night out with your friends.