Being the best parent that we can be is hard work. Often, it’s easy to get stuck on the details and forget the big-picture stuff… like self-care. While it seems paradoxical at times, putting others first all the time can have negative effects on our own health. And when the family’s main carer isn’t well, the ramifications affect everyone else as well.
Self-care isn’t selfish
Looking after yourself is a decision for your family, not against it. When you’re emotionally and physically at your best, you’re able to engage with your children more meaningfully and with more energy. Bottom line: looking after yourself isn’t just something you do for you; it’s something you do for everyone’s wellbeing.
Remember who you are
It’s easy, as a new parent, to get caught up in the ‘Mummy’ persona and lose track of our identities and passions outside of the family. That’s not healthy in the long-term, though – self-identity and following our dreams makes us fulfilled as human beings. So take some time now and then to reconnect with activities you love, whether it be painting, craft, writing, rock climbing, or engaging in professional development.
Teach good practice
One way to look at self-care is as a model for your children. Do you want them to grow up never caring for their own health? Of course not. Let them see you being aware of your health and well-being and actively caring for yourself, so that they can learn to do the same for themselves.
Don’t isolate yourself
Organising get-togethers with other adults can be difficult when you have young children – lots of extra organisation and energy required just to get out of the house, or get everything prepared for guests. Staying connected with supportive friends and family helps to keep your emotional needs met, which in turn helps you to provide connection and support to your children. There are a number of community groups in the area that specialise in parent meetups; the Coomera Springs Early Years Centre provides a number of options, as well as support services.
Plan regular self-care sessions in advance
Don’t wait until you’re feeling run-down and horrible. Plan self-care into your parenting schedule, just as you’d plan meal-times and exercise. Consider enrolling your child in childcare for one day a week or fortnight and using that day purely to look after yourself and relax. Take a chance to read a book, go to the doctor, buy yourself a nice meal, or even just grab a coffee in a place that you enjoy spending time. Planning in advance will generally make things go more smoothly on the day and ensure that your child is prepared for the change.