As a parent, the needs and wants of your children always come first. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take each day to give yourself something back too. When you stop caring for yourself, not only does your own physical and mental health deteriorate, but also the way in which you care for your family is also affected; If you are stressed and worn down, then you can’t put your all into your children, because you simply won’t have the energy.
Not only that, but your children look to you as a role model: an example of the person they want to become. They learn from you, and if they see that you aren’t; properly taking care of themselves, then they are less likely to grow up knowing the right way to care for their own bodies. Therefore, if you are a parent who puts the health of others before their own well-being, here are a few examples of factors you can work on, not only for the good of your own happiness but for the improved well-being of your whole family.
Strengthening your relationship
As parents, it is easy to become so exhausted by having to juggle all of the household chores, working and caring for your children, that it can be easy to forget you have a relationship to maintain too. The care of a child, let alone looking after more than one, is a pressure to put on just two people, and it also means you end up demanding more of one another in stressful times. If you are going through a lot of bad times together, then it is important to find a way to balance these out with better times, if you want to keep the relationship strong.
To avoid arguments, remember to give each other some space and time out from the demands of parenting life, and don’t expect your partner to be a miracle worker: they are struggling just as much as you. Try not to withdraw from situations, saying that you are fine when really you’re not, as this will just cause more problems further down the line. Share the load when you can, and talk through how you are feeling with one another: the more open you are, the easier it will be to work through any problems that you might be facing.
Most importantly, try and find time for yourselves when you can just be alone together and enjoy the bliss of adult company. This doesn’t mean you have to miraculously magic enough time to go on a three-hour date each week; it simply means spending 10 minutes with the person you love in the evening, checking in with them, and reminding them that you are there for one another. Of course, if you do find the spare time, then it wouldn’t hurt to have some sort of date night once a month or so, where you can take a break and simply enjoy being two adults in love, rather than just being in parent mode all of the time.
Looking after your physical health
How can you expect to be the superhero of the household when you aren’t getting enough sleep every night, you’re not sustaining your body by eating the right foods, and you don’t even have a spare moment to yourself to get a breath of fresh air? It isn’t selfish to want these things for yourself; it is just practical!
With the busy hours that parenthood requires, it is important to fuel your body correctly by giving it the nutrition it needs, and that means eating all the right foods. Instead of carb and sugar loading when you need a burst of energy, start your day with a healthy breakfast, which includes a good protein (such as an egg), some healthy fats (avocado, for example) and some leafy greens! If you feel you can’t make time in the mornings to make this for yourself, then something as simple as a breakfast smoothie can be enough to get you through until your first chance to eat, so long as it contains all the important nutritional elements: not just fruit!
Finding the time to exercise might seem like a trivial matter, but in actual fact, it is very important if you want your body to have the strength to get through the day with ease; Regular exercise promotes better metabolism, boosts your immune system and improves circulation. Of course, it can be difficult to fit in the time to exercise on a busy schedule, but the importance of your health it is worth it. If you’re unsure of the best types of exercise for you to be doing, then it might be good to start a workout plan, such as this one, to keep you on track.
Dealing with stress
Of course, parenting is going to be stressful: the experience of children crying, making demands of you, and vying for your constant attention, is never going to be a walk in the park. However, while feeling stressed some of the time is completely normal, being faced with chronic stress could seriously take a toll on your mental and physical health. Some symptoms of chronic stress can include headaches, stomach aches, an inability to concentrate and erratic mood swings. The immune system is also affected, meaning that you could be more prone to illness. Therefore, it is important to find some stress management tools which will work for you.
Simple changes, such as getting up 10 minutes earlier in the day, so that you can have the chance to wake up gradually, or get yourself some breakfast and a warm drink to start the day, could help you face the challenges of the day in a much better mindset. When doing chores or other activities, listening to music, or even an audiobook, will make the tasks seem a lot less monotonous. Remember to make time to socialize with your friends and family, as being cut off from the other people in your life who you care about can take a toll on you emotionally. Finally, try and find a few minutes at the end of the day to take a timeout, and allow yourself to unwind, so that you don’t go to sleep feeling quite as stressed.