No matter how you became a parent (biological or through adoption), the journey can be tough at times. Don’t get me wrong! I love my two children, but there are some days that I find myself drained from the consistent routine of being the cook, maid, chauffeur, counselor and referee. Parenting requires mental and emotional endurance. In order to stay the course, parents need to build in time for self-care. I know what you’re thinking. “How on earth am I supposed to do that?” I’m going to give you some things to consider.
- Self-care is not selfish.
We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t give to anyone else if your tank is on empty”. This also applies to parenting. As a mom, we seem to make sure that everyone else is happy and well taken care of before we care for ourselves. This does not make you a bad person; however, if this is a consistent pattern, man your battle stations for burnout. Please know that we must prioritize ourselves and our needs. I know it’s hard to do when your toddler is stuck to you like Velcro, but you must make time for yourself.
- Create and maintain a network of support.
Family, friends, church, local support group, therapist…all of these are examples of folks who will support you should you have any parenting struggles. Leaning on others when we feel like we are struggling as parents is a great way to find comfort and seek guidance. Personally, I’ve leaned on my mother, sisters, cousins and co-workers for advice. Most importantly, I’ve asked the Lord for guidance. Matthew 11:28-29 says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest of your souls.”
- Put it in writing.
Carve out time in your schedule for yourself. Don’t wait for an hour to two to magically “open up” on your calendar. We all know how hectic our lives can get—church, volunteering, soccer game, swim lessons, work obligations, etc. Before we realize it, we’re heading into Saturday exhausted and irritable. The message is clear—physically schedule time for yourself. Ask your spouse or babysitter to watch the kids so that you can spend some time away. Head to the park, the movies, a great book store, the nail salon or anywhere that recharges your battery.
Start with carving out just 20 minutes a day for yourself and go from there. You’ll soon see the rewards (for yourself AND your family) of how crucial “me time” can be.