Self-care sounds great in theory; but in the hectic pace of life, where do you find time to get a relaxing massage at a spa or take a much-needed vacation? The good news is, self-care isn't just about indulging in time-consuming, far-reaching activities. It is a holistic process that can be integrated into your daily routine... no remote island getaway required. The following easy self-care ideas for parents will help you feel more invigorated and revitalized every day.
Honor Your Uniqueness & Prioritize What You Love
Your life is your own, and it is okay to have different priorities than others. Just because your friend cooks a dinner from scratch every night doesn't mean that you have to, especially if you don't love cooking. You might choose to spend that time and energy doing art projects solo or with your kids.
Eat Tasty and Healthy Meals
Eating well doesn't have to be time-consuming. Spend 30 minutes on the weekend planning the meals for the week and making a grocery list. This will prevent you from having to decide what to make each day, and eliminate the need to run to the grocery store at the last minute. Instant oatmeal is great for you and makes a hearty breakfast. Peanut butter sandwiches, low-fat yogurt, and fruit are a quick, healthy lunch (peanut butter is a good fat, and some of your calories need to come from good fats). For dinner, throw a stew into the slow cooker with potatoes and veggies, and a healthy protein (tofu or lean chicken). Low-fat cheese and trail mix are great snacks.
Get Enough Sleep
You might try to operate on 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night because you could do that in high school and college, but this amount of sleep may not be adequate for you anymore. If you have an infant, take turns with your partner doing night shifts. If you are home during the day, sleep when the baby sleeping. No matter what age your kids are, even a 20-minute power nap in the afternoon can refresh a parent for the rest of the day. Set a regular schedule and routine before going to bed, and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Appreciate the Small Stuff
Focusing on the present moment is a great way to bring awareness to your breath and to clear your mind. Clearing your mind for even 20 seconds can be refreshing. If meditation isn't your cup of tea, many activities can be meditative if you focus on what your senses are taking in. Focus on how good the warm water feels on your hands while doing the dishes, feel the cool breeze on your skin while walking the dog, or bask in the lovely baby smell and sound of your little one breathing as you rock them to sleep.
Channel Your Inner Child
Children laugh with abandon, and you can too. Laughter lifts the spirits and makes something seem a lot less insurmountable. Be silly with your kids. Listen to the comedy station on Pandora while cleaning, or laugh with other parents while you commiserate about parenting.
Retreat to Your Haven
You need space for yourself where you are free of stress and responsibilities. Reserve your bedroom only for sleep, sex and for yourself to take a break. Retreat to your room, play some calming music, sit, and close your eyes for five minutes.
Savor the Sunshine
It can be easy to get into a rut and stay indoors when you're caught up in a routine; but it is amazing how just a few minutes in the sunshine can be so energizing. While taking a break, take a few minutes to walk outside instead of flipping through Facebook. If you have extra time, stroll the beach or walk around your neighborhood and notice the leaves rustling in the trees and the birds chirping.
Exhilarate Your Mind and Body
Exercise is not only important for physical health and energy, but also for energizing your mind. Go for a walk with your baby in a stroller, or do a 30-minute aerobics class on YouTube in the morning before your kids wake up.
Divide & Conquer For Household Tasks
Sometimes women feel obligated to take charge of tasks that tradition dictates are expected of them: cleaning, laundry, cooking and packing lunches. This can lead to fatigue, frustration, and resentment. Work out a system with your partner that brings equity to managing your household. Delegate some responsibilities to the kids.
Free Your Mind
Organizing your life can really make effective use of your time and declutter your mind. Keep a planner in which you mark important dates and deadlines, make daily to-do lists, and create a to-do list for projects you want to keep on your radar, such as taxes and home repairs. Having things on paper makes it easier to be mentally present.
Say Yes to Yourself
If you are a people-pleaser, it might be hard for you to say no. In that case, think of it as saying yes to yourself. If you're having a particularly busy week with doctor appointments and soccer games and dance recitals, skip that non-mandatory meeting at work.
Take Care of Your Own Needs Too
You probably spend a lot of time taking kids to their activities, shopping for school clothes, and going to the pediatrician. You need appointments for yourself too, whether it is therapy, a massage, or shopping for your own clothes. Try to schedule those things during your kid's soccer practice or dance class.
Relax and Have Fun
No matter how much you work, there will always be something to clean, laundry to do, and emails to answer. The work is never-ending, but the fun and relaxation will not automatically happen unless you schedule it in. Pick a time to stop working each evening, and choose a day of the week that is strictly a family fun day or a day to do whatever you wish.
Reflect to Thrive
Spending just a couple of minutes journaling at the end of each day is a great way to reflect, get in touch with your feelings, find insights, and foster personal growth by identifying successes and areas for betterment.
Escape in a Good Book
Being a lifelong learner is important for your intellectual well-being. Even if you just read a couple pages per night, reading not only fosters that part of yourself, but it can also be a great way to wind down at the end of the day. Give your eyes a break from electronics, and learn something new by reading a non-fiction book, or escape into a new world of a fiction book.
Connect With Others
Connecting with others and fostering healthy relationships is a huge part of your well-being. If you are new to a town, find groups such as parenting groups or book clubs where you can interact with others with similar interests. If you find it hard to have date nights due to lack of childcare, see if you can form a group with three other families where parents take turns watching all the children. This way, you could get a date night every week for three weeks per month for the price of hosting a movie night for the kids once a month.
Being engaged in a hobby or project outside of your profession can be fun and enrich your life. Whether it is art, gardening or playing the piano, learning something new or expressing your talents can broaden your horizons and share other aspects of yourself with the world. If you have young children, you might work on your own art project while they are doing their homework. If you have teenagers who are more independent, you could take a photography class at the local community center, for example.
Care for Your Entire Being
Self-care is not something that should happen just once every couple of weeks. You want to take care of yourself on a regular basis. Not only does that help you be a better parent and ensure your well-being, it also models for your kids the importance of caring for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self.