Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by The Parenting Center.
Taking Care of Yourself as a Parent
Once school starts, family life becomes more hectic. From the fall breaks to picking costumes for Halloween to fall festivals and trunk-or-treat to deciding where the family will spend the holidays on top of balancing work and extra-curricular activities, the list goes on. All of these responsibilities and obligations can make finding time for yourself challenging. Making self-care a priority becomes a difficult task when there is so much to take care of and so little time available. However, parenting does become easier when your own needs are being met.
The reality is that no matter how difficult it may be to do something just for you, activities like a nap, a hobby you enjoy, date night or an hour of yoga or cycling can benefit you in more ways than you realize. We have all heard the saying “You can’t take care of others, unless you take care of yourself first!” or “Take care of yourself first or you will have nothing left to give others.” The truth is that you can take care of others without taking care of yourself, but to avoid exhaustion, frustration and sometimes resentment, it is best to find some time for YOU!
To begin the journey of finding space in your life for “ME time,” there are some ways to make self-care a priority rather than a random or sporadic opportunity that comes around only now and then.
Balancing Work and Family
- Have realistic expectations of yourself
- Reduce unnecessary commitments, it’s okay to say “no” sometimes
- Develop good transition-time routines
- Teach your child/children to be independent
- Organize good, reliable childcare ahead of time or as soon in advance as possible
Negative Thinking – get rid of stinking thinking
- Unhelpful thoughts that blame the child or someone else for something are negative and can escalate/blow up the matter.
- Helpful thoughts are more realistic and can help us stay calm, feel better and stay positive
- Examples of unhelpful thoughts vs. helpful thoughts:
Unhelpful thought: Helpful thought:
She did that on purpose to upset me Maybe she’s bored when I’m on the phone He’s never going to learn It will take him a while to learn
Changing How You Think
- Notice when you are feeling upset with your child
- Be aware of and identify what negative or unhelpful things you are saying to yourself about the situation, particularly why it is happening
- Work toward changing negative thoughts to helpful, more reasonable thoughts
Working as a Team
- Communicate with your partner and supportive caregivers about daily experiences with your child
- Share the workload fairly
- Come to an agreement on discipline
- Support and back one another
- Model problem-solving skills
- Hold regular problem-solving discussions
For more information about parental self-care or other parenting tips, check out the classes and programs offered at The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital New Orleans or find us on Facebook.
About Shanelle R. Staten, MSW
Shanelle Staten has been a Parent Educator at The Parenting Center since February 2017. She received her BA in English from Dillard University and her MSW from Tulane University. Before joining the Parenting Center staff, Shanelle worked as a research coordinator for a Positive Parenting Initiative and as a mental health professional providing therapeutic services in the community. Shanelle teaches From Walkers to Talkers, other classes for parents of school-age children/teens and shares in staffing the Metairie Center.