SELF CARE FOR PARENTS
Time to Relax
So what does relaxation look like for a time-starved parent who has more commitments than they can meet?
How long is it since you lay on your back in the sun and watched puffs of cotton ball clouds float across a bright blue sky. Or went for a long walk along a pure white beach with the warmth of the sun on your back. Or did yoga, or went out for dinner and had time to savour the food?
If you sit down to read a magazine, or a book, do you feel guilty because you have so many other things that are pressing for your attention.
As parents we need to be careful not to fall into the trap of being everything to everyone but ourselves. Without careful planning, one day can turn into another. And although relaxation is important, it isn't urgent, so it's easy to put it behind other things. And sometimes weeks go by and we haven't really relaxed.
Sadly, without planning, relaxation can default to the easiest. That being electronic sedation (in front of a screen) sometimes reinforced with medication: often alcohol. And yes I fully understand this form of relaxation can take the edge off high levels of stress.
But would you rate electronic sedation as a form of relaxation a 10/10?
For example: On your children's sport training days you might use the available time, (while someone else is coaching them,) to read, catch up for coffee with a friend, establish new friendships with like-minded parents, go for a walk or run, meditate in your car, listen to a podcast, etc.
You can take turns with another responsible parent to free you up completely from this commitment, and return the favour the following week. Or you can share the commitment with your partner, so that each of you, gets some time off occasionally. And while it's wonderful to watch your children build their skills, does your shivering on a sports field twice a week, for twenty week a year, really contribute that much to your children's well-being when you see them play anyway.
Is it possible that you could look at areas of your life and take time off sometimes to use for what you want?
Something to consider is do your current relaxation strategies cater to your wants and needs for: freedom, variety, connection, excitement and fun? And does it bring you closer to those you love?
Is it possible, with some minimal planning, you could be having more regular opportunities to relax
either alone, or with those you love?
There may be more opportunities to take advantage of than you initially realize:
And even if you can make available time, without mindful planning it may end up squandered.
For example: Have you ever watched a movie and thought,'Well that's two hours of my life I'll never get back.' Or wandered around a busy shopping centre listening to mindless music and other people's screaming-children, looking at things you can't afford to buy, often feeling more stressed when you leave, than when you entered.
Whereas with some basic planning you could have used your time to do nothing but relax.
'Relaxation is the art of letting go.'
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