June 9

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Self-Care Makes You a Better Parent: Here’s How You Can Prioritize It

By Charlie Fletcher

June 9, 2021

journaling, mental health, mindfulness, parenting, physical health, prioritization, self care, sleep, volunteering

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Lucille Ball said, “Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line.”

And, Lucy knew a thing or two about love. 

Self-care might seem like a buzzword right now, or a term people are using as an excuse to treat themselves to luxurious items and trips across the globe. But, when you strip away the glamour it’s received lately, self-care at its core is extremely important. It’s crucial for your physical and mental health. 

For parents, self-care can be even more important for your mental health, since your child’s mental health can be directly connected to your own and how well you’re able to support them and provide a stable, healthy environment.  

Still not convinced? Let’s cover why self-care is so important for parents, how taking care of yourself will make you a better parent, and how you can find time to prioritize your own care before looking after everyone else. 

Managing Your Mental Health

The old saying goes that you can’t pour from an empty cup. As a parent, you might think it’s your job to put your family’s needs above your own. But, that can only last for so long before you completely burn out. Young mothers are especially susceptible to experiencing mental health challenges, with almost 40% of young moms struggling with issues like:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity

If you’re dealing with depression, your emotions and behaviors can impact your family. Kids already have to deal with so much from a very young age. From peer pressure to body image issues and from cyberbullying to the after-effects of a pandemic, children and teens already have a lot on their plates. If they aren’t getting the attention, care, or even the emotional security they need at home, their own mental health could start to suffer. You might see them withdrawing from others, isolating themselves from friends, and avoiding the things they typically love. 

So, the next time you feel guilty for wanting a “day off,” consider the fact that the better you take care of yourself, the better you can provide for your family. You’re also setting an example for your children that mental health is just as important as physical health. 

Everyday Self-Care

So, you’ve committed to practicing self-care each day. 

… Now what? 

As a parent, the idea of self-care might sound great, but how are you supposed to find the time? Understanding that self-care doesn’t have to be some elaborate event can help. You can find little ways to squeeze it in each day, and those small moments will make a big difference. Not sure where to get started? Some everyday self-care activities you can try include: 

  • Journaling
  • Trying a new class
  • Practicing mindfulness for five minutes
  • Making sleep a priority
  • Having a dance party
  • Volunteering

Even things like exercising and eating well are forms of self-care. Your diet can impact everything from your weight and cholesterol levels to your eye health. Vitamin C, E, and essential fatty acids are all great for your vision and your overall health. 

Self-care is a very personal thing. Figure out what works for you, and what’s the most meaningful. Even if you can only spare a few minutes each day, take the time to make it a priority for those few minutes. You’ll feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and able to give your full attention to your kids. 

Finding the Help You Deserve

It’s easy for self-care to seem like a luxury, depending on your living situation. There’s no question that there are health disparities in our country. Access to healthcare in rural communities is extremely limited. Between 2010 and 2018, 95 rural hospitals closed, largely due to financial struggles and population demographic trends. Because of that, rural Americans typically have poor access to health care – including mental health services. 

If you’re struggling with stress and feeling overwhelmed, the best self-care action you can take is to get the help you need and deserve. That might mean asking for help from your partner or a family member. If you’re really struggling, however, seeking out professional help is important. 

Thankfully, the health disparities might be dissipating somewhat thanks to the popularity of telehealth. Now, if you feel like you’re burning out, you can reach out to a therapist or counselor anywhere in the country from the comfort of your own home. Whatever you do, don’t wait to get the help you need. If you’re finding it hard to put yourself first, talking to someone who understands the importance of self-care can help you to make it a priority. 

Let go of the guilt as soon as you can. Self-care is far from selfish, and you’ll quickly see that making it a priority will allow you to be the best parent possible for your kids. 

About the author 

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who enjoys listening to podcasts, tending to her plants, and bingeing reality tv. She has a passion for social justice, workplace issues, and mental health, which you can read more about by visiting her portfolio. You can also connect with her on LinkedIn.

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