Making Time for Self-care
As busy parents, we often tend to put our children's needs first. We are often spending time driving kids to their activities, making sure they are prepared for school the next day, signing them up for events and the list goes on and on. The more we do for our kids, the more our needs tend to be pushed to the bottom of the list. How many times have you sacrificed what you wanted to do because it interfered with your kids' activities? While coaching many parents who don't take time for themselves and allow multiple tasks to get in the way of what they want to do for themselves, I often use the oxygen mask analogy. When the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping someone else, the reason is pretty clear. How can you help others if you are unable to care for yourself? Self-care is essential for your health and well-being as well as your family's wellbeing. Remember, your children are role modeling your behaviors. If you are stressed, exhausted and irritable, quality time spent with your family is hindered. You are also sending your family a message that time for yourself is not important and valued. Raising emotionally healthy children often depends on how you are taking care of your emotional needs. If you are not getting your needs met, the result is often resentment, anger, fatigue, irritability and stress.
Here are some tips to make sure you are making time for self-care:
Get 'me' time on the calendar. Not only do you block off time on your calendar for yourself, but you also need to commit to keeping it there and not letting anything get in the way of your time. Yes, life can get in the way, so you can be flexible and adjust the times as needed or delegate tasks to others so you make time for yourself. Even if it is 10 or 15 minutes for yourself, take those steps to get time into your schedule for you. One of my clients noticed she was actually making less doctor's appointments for herself and spending less time completing other tasks because she was less tired and more productive. So, "me" time actually creates more time in your day than if you don't make time for yourself.
Delegate. Creating time in the day for yourself includes delegating tasks to others so there is shared responsibility. Ask neighbors, family members and friends to help with tasks, like picking up the kids or babysitting. Give your children age-appropriate chores, like unloading the dishwasher, folding clothes, preparing meals or vacuuming. Not only does it give you extra time for yourself, it also gives children a sense of responsibility and skill development.
Believe you are worthy of self-care. So many of my clients feel they are not worthy of self-care and believe it is selfish to take time for themselves. The opposite is actually true. It is selfish not to take time for yourself because those around you will notice a difference, whether it is your lower energy level, irritability or resentment. Not only are you doing yourself a favor when you take care of your needs, you are doing others around you a favor by being in a much more enhanced mood, being more present with them and having an improved state of well-being.
Cindy Goulding is a licensed professional counselor as well as a health and wellness coach and certified personal trainer. She is the author of Healthy Weight: It's a Family Affair. Her website is victoriousmcg.com.