SELF CARE FOR PARENTS
What is Most Important in Life?
For example: You don't get the car serviced regularly and then when the car breaks down you don't have a back up car to get yourself to work and the children to school. Or you don't spend time reading with your children while they're young and then realize that by the age of eight they're struggling at school and they need a tutor.
Regardless of how wisely you spend your time, there are always trade offs.
Of the 24 hours you get every day, how do you best use your time to help you get what you want out of life.
Is your current time allocation helping your family get what they want?
Do you feel like you have control over the direction of your life? Or are you allowing your life to be largely dictated to by others: Your boss, your bank, your kids, your partner...
Do you sometimes feel like a passenger in your own life, rather than the driver? And is there a nagging feeling that tells you it's not all working out exactly as you'd like it?
I think it's safe to assume there are many areas of your life competing against one another, for both your time and your money.
How can you create opportunities for fun family times, and self care opportunities for parents, while maintaining all of your responsibilities?
Is it possible without acknowledging responsibilities and planning for them, you may end up, by default, spending your time on the urgent rather than the important.
You make healthy meals but have little time available for self care. Your career is going well but you're not spending enough time with your children. You'd like to have a great relationship with your parents but don't have time to see them.
So what do you currently spend most of your time and money on?
And is your expenditure what you want it to be?
Maybe there's not enough in it for you. Or if for you, maybe not your partner, or maybe not for your children. Do you live a relatively calm existence or are you constantly running on adrenaline? Do you feel that your life is under control, sometimes out of balance, frequently stressful or does chaos reign?
I'd like to make you aware that by asking these simple questions I'm not your enemy and I'm not trying to pry. I'm trying to help you have more 'real happiness' in your life.
Because I've worked with a multitude of parents over years I learned for even the families that seemed to have it all together, if you scratched the surface, there were often things that weren't okay underneath. Its surprising how many of us are all going through similar issues.
I found a lot of parents feel pressured.
Parents can perceive they're under constant social pressure to be happily married, look like models, be ageless, have an interesting career, have well-behaved and clever children, have a lovely home, have meaningful friendships, have a wide circle of friends, go on interesting holidays, renovate the house, be fit and healthy, be interesting to talk to and fun to be around and maintain great relationships with family members and others in their lives.
And realistically, to have all that going on, is that simultaneously even possible?
Some live for their weekends. Some drink too much to help take the edge off the pressure. Some end up having health issues because subconsciously they're under enormous stress.
What are the strategies you use to keep it all together?
Maybe the competing areas of your life look something like this.
And you and I know there's even more... So is there any wonder that people sometimes feel stressed that they can't do it all?
I've learned a lot of people spend their lives feeling that they're not enough because they can't achieve it all.
How can someone be: the best mum or dad, the sexy partner, the capable yet always caring co-worker, the thoughtful friend, the perfect housekeeper, the kind and helpful daughter, the expert renovator, a super-fit mum ... and the list goes on. Is it realistic to be able to achieve all of these things, all of the time.
And how, while you're juggling all of these ideals, do you ensure that what's most important to you remains on the top of your priority list?
So I suppose it's relevant to ask yourself what areas of your life are you willing to compromise on so you can excel in others.
What do you want to excel at? What is less important and what doesn't really matter in the long term?
For me, self care, particularly my health was a priority. I went to bed by eight thirty every night (except on weekends) and made sure I got eight hours sleep whenever possible.
I got up really early, before my children in the morning and planned a healthy dinner, organized the lunches for the day and packed the children's bags. Then I went for an early morning 5 km walk with a close girlfriend along the beach. As we got fitter we increased our speed and distance. This met not only my health need but also my needs for friendship and spiritual connection with something beyond my world.
Regardless of what happened on any given day, parent self care was prioritised... There was something in it for me. And I felt like I was being true to myself.
Now to do this, I obviously needed my husband to be home to cover me in case the children woke up. He did weekday mornings from 6 until 6:45 and I covered his weekend mornings so he was free to go surfing.
But if your partner isn't available to cover you, is there someone else in your life that might be able to help?
Can you afford a nanny/baby sitter to come in early to assist with getting the children ready for school? Is there babysitting at your gym for example that allows you to attend a class?
Can you negotiate with a friend or family member who will trade time with you so that you can cover each other. I've seen numerous young parents with children in a pram on their daily morning walk/run.
Now you may not be a morning person and family commitments may preclude you from doing as I did. I get it. At certain times of our lives it was really difficult for me to get time for myself too but why I'm sharing this with you is...
When I prioritised myself, this was when I was happiest and most effective.
So I'm simply encouraging you to look at your life to see if it's possible to put in some organizational strategies to help give you more of your life back.
I highly recommend checking out Time savers for Healthy Meals. And for more Parent Self-Care ideas go to:
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