Parents need to be available when their children needs help, care or attention but being a good parent does not mean that the children should dominate the parents life. There has to be a healthy balance.
Parental self-care is an essential yet often neglected and underrated task of parenting. Parents who look after themselves are better equipped to cope with and manage the stresses and daily hassles of parenting effectively. If their own needs are being met it is easier for parents to be patient, consistent and available. These needs include rest, time alone, intimacy, companionship, social interaction, recreation and stimulation.
Self-care is a need for all parents, regardless of the age of their children. Parents are often able to make more time available for themselves as the children get older.
Parents need time to recharge. Taking a break from parental duties can renew energy and increase the enjoyment of time spent with the family. Parents need to do things they enjoy and value and which enhance the quality and enjoyment of life.
It is also important- especially as your children get older- that your rights as a parent and an individual are respected and valued by all in the family. By creating a home environment where the needs of all members are considered to be of equal importance you are not only contributing to your own self-care but also teaching your children to consider others in the pursuit of their own goals.
Parental self-care with older children includes refusing unreasonable requests, for example, demands on time and money, and preserving privacy, such as not being interrupted unnecessarily, having personal space and time and not having to share all information with the children.
Looking after one’s self includes expecting reasonable behaviour from older children and applying consequences when parental rights are ignored.
By attending to their own self-care parents are providing a model of a well-balanced, independent and functional adult, thereby encouraging their children to follow a similar path.
- Have realistic expectations of yourself and what you can achieve (no parent is perfect)
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle which includes exercising regularly
- Eat a balanced diet
- Get sufficient rest
- Make a regular time for yourself and do something you enjoy
- Accept help when it is offered and ask for help if none is offered
- Be flexible and ensure that childcare responsibilities and household tasks are shared
- Maintain your relationship with your partner
- Develop a small circle of friends and family- people you can talk to and with whom you can leave your children
- Plan some child free time. As long as your child is being well cared for it will not harm them to have some time away from you
- Develop strategies for coping with stress such as relaxation and deep breathing