Parents need to mind themselves. Resilience is about looking after yourself. For many years I was not good at taking care of myself and this resulted in me running late, getting stressed, being impatient with my children and losing it from time to time. There are so many demands on us as parents, like in the aeroplane; we need to put our own oxygen mask on first. When we take care of ourselves, we ultimately take better care of everyone else.
What helps you cope as a Parent?
Parents often tell me different things that work for them, so here are some common examples.
- ‘I go for a walk or a run’. ‘Why?’ I ask. The response is always the same. Because when I take some time and space for me, I am in a better place. I am calmer, more patient and less stressed.
- ‘I take some time out for myself, on my own or with a friend or set a date night with my partner’. We need time out to really be at our best. To be the Happy Parent and to ensure that our children are Happy Children. Ironically, when I take time for myself, I automatically offer time to my child as suddenly there is petrol in the tank, water in the well, something to draw from. I have recharged my battery and am better resourced to deal with whatever I meet.
- ‘I count to 10; if I feel I am going to lose it’ ‘I take a step back’ ‘I step out of the room’ ‘I take three deep abdominal breaths to self-calm’ ‘I sit quietly for a few minutes/meditate’. When we STOP, hit our PAUSE button, we stop being reactive, and find that we are more Reactive and taking time to reflect on our response, ensures that others respond better.
- ‘I take time to see my friends and to have a laugh’ keeps things in perspective. We lose perspective when we neglect family and friends and the spark people in your life.
- ‘I have learned to say No and I ask for help or accept help that is offered’. Balance taking care of others with taking care of self as every time I say Yes to someone, I say No to myself. There are times we all need help and support and probably no one deserves it more than you. A lack of deservedness blocks us taking help offered or support offered. So, learn to take the compliment or the offer of a dish from someone coming for dinner, you deserve it!
Relaxation is essential for parents
The time to relax is when you do not have time for it. Therefore, get in touch with how you feel; ‘I feel really stressed’ and respond in the way that you need. Communicate it outward ‘I am taking a few minutes for myself and I would like not to be disturbed’. It helps when we have a supportive family and caring friends but it is more than that. We need to express how things are for us; ‘I feel tired and I need you to XXX’
Reduce Parental Stress Through Self Care
Take care of yourself, the more you do, the more you learn (as I did) to value and respect yourself.