5 Quick Tips for Parental Self-Care
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are wonderful opportunities to celebrate the blessing it is to be a parent but they have their bittersweet moments, as well. Not everything about parenthood feels celebratory.
Growing up, all I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother. I have been blessed, in my life, to realize that dream and so many of the joys that have come with it. My husband Adam and I have been married more than 20 years. Together, we are raising four amazing kids who have stretched, challenged, and loved me into the person I am today. They have been my greatest blessing and my greatest education.
While I am thankful for what being their mother has taught me, the reality of my parenting experience has been far different from what I ever imagined it would be. I have experienced the loss of two of my children to miscarriage and stillbirth. I have watched another of my children fight for her life, and her quality of life, for more than a decade.
Parenthood can be filled with as much pain, grief and heartbreak as it is filled with joy, celebration and love. It’s not unusual or even a rare experience. We just don’t anticipate the really hard parts of parenthood as much as we look forward to the really good parts. So, when the hard happens, it feels that much more difficult to take.
The trick is to not let the hard be so all consuming that it blocks out the good parts of parenthood. The good parts are always there, even if they don't look exactly the way we expected they would.
READ MORE: The 10 Paracords of Self-Care
Under The Parachute Project™ there are five strands in the Parental Paracord, they are:
FAMILY VALUES ~ PARENT/CHILD RELATIONSHIP ~ CHILDCARE ~ PARENTHOOD ~ FAMILY PLANNING
Below, are 5 quick tips for PARENTAL self-care that will nurture your relationships with your child(ren) and enrich your experience as a parent.
Quick Parental Self-Care Tip #1 – Create a night time routine:
Most of us have some kind of night time routine with our kids but when was the last time you thought about how significant this time truly is?
It is imperative that our children feel safe and secure in their home in order to foster an atmosphere for rest, growth and healing. A night time routine can reassure them of your care and protection, particularly at times when life feels unsettled and insecure.
This is also a really good time of day to connect with your kids as they are most open to sharing their thoughts. Consider rotating your weeknights among your children and give them some extended, one on one, bedtime attention from you. Don’t forget your older kids and teens who may also be hoping to share their thoughts and worries with you.
Quick Parental Self-Care Tip #2 – Give hugs, lots of hugs:
Physical closeness and hugs have so many positive benefits for our overall well-being. I can’t even list them all here. They benefit everything from boosting our immune system to lowering blood pressure. Hugs also nurture the relationships we have with our kids through the release of oxytocin, the love hormone. This flood of hormones strengthens the bond we share, not just for them but for us too.
Develop a routine of hugging your kids the first time you see them, every morning, and/or before they go to sleep, at night. It will become a much anticipated moment, in the day, for both of you.
Quick Parental Self-Care Tip #3 – Do it as a family:
My youngest is always asking if we can do things as a family. Can we go outside as a family? Can we play a game as a family? To her, it doesn’t much matter what we do, as long as we do it together.
You don’t have to plan something special or elaborate. Just be mindful of every day routines and chores that you can do as a family. Need to run an errand? Need to do yard work? Need to clean out the garage? Do it as a family! For some reason, your kids will suddenly be much more interested if they know you will all be doing it together.
Not only does doing activities together as a family give you more time with your kids but it also provides opportunities to share your knowledge and interests with them and to teach important life skills.
Quick Parental Self-Care Tip #4 – Plan some family fun:
In addition to those daily opportunities for family togetherness, you could also plan a special activity for your family to enjoy together. This should be something that doesn't happen very often so it's a treat. Ideally, this should also be something your whole family enjoys, at least for the most part. Consider your family's interests, places you have enjoyed visiting in the past and bucket list activities you would like to try. It could be as involved as a family vacation or a trip to a local ice cream stand. Play a favorite game. Have a campfire. Print out a scavenger hunt and go exploring. The possibilities really are endless!
For more Family Fun inspiration, check out my FAMILY FUN board on Pinterest!
Quick Parental Self-Care Tip #5 – Set aside one on one time:
Family togetherness is important, but so is taking time to nurture the relationship you have with each of your children as individuals. Consider treat each of your kids to a special day out with you. Choose something that your child enjoys or that you especially want to share with them. Have your child help you to make plans so that they can look forward to the day with anticipation. Make a big deal as it arrives and take lots of pictures.
There are all kinds of activities you can experience together. Think about hobbies you can share, picnics, fishing, or cooking. Short day trips are great for teens as they can sit up front, beside you, and talk with you during the drive. Get creative and make some time to connect with each of your kids.
READ MORE: 5 Valentines to Give Your Kids
Parenting is hard, especially when it involves the additional complications of complex medical and/or special needs. It can be easy to get caught up in the daily responsibilities and burdens our circumstances demand. Sometimes, we are so overwhelmed by the struggle that we forget to see the good parts of our parenting experience.
Parenthood may not look the way you imagined it would but many of those things you looked forward to, with anticipation and longing, are still there. You might just have to look a little harder for them sometimes. With a little bit of intentional, parental self-care you can more thoroughly enjoy your parenting experience.
For more resources to support you in your parenting role, follow my “Parental Self-Care” board on Pinterest!
As always, do not try to apply all of these quick tips for parental self-care at one time. It is always better to focus your attention on just one action until it becomes a natural part of your self-care practice before adding another. Approaching self-care this way, increases the likelihood that you will stay consistent, be successful and enjoy the benefits of your efforts long-term.
Self-Care Action Discussed in this Post:
Choose just one of the 5 quick tips for parental self-care discussed above, or another action of your choice, to focus attention on your parental well-being and nurture the relationships you have with your kids.
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