Self-Care: It’s The Simple Things That Are So Important

selfcare

A post particularly for stay-at-home parents, or anyone who wants a few ideas on how to relax and enjoy life a little more. It also focuses on how to create a routine to keeps things calm and happy, yet structured, when at home. 

As a stay-at-home parent it is not uncommon to feel like your entire life (or almost your entire life) is based around your family and kids, and this is entirely natural. Stay-at-home parenting is a 24/7 job, and it requires a great deal of energy and stamina. This is where self-care comes in as a vital aspect of your life and your well-being. Things can quickly get out of balance when not exercising, eating right, sleeping enough, or getting adequate rest and time-outs. While it is not always possible to have all of these things in balance at once (new parents are not necessarily going to be sleeping all that much at first) there are some daily behaviours and mind-sets that can help with getting things a little more “in balance”.

Here are ten tips for finding balance:

  1. Stretching: Even five minutes of yoga stretches can help start your day off right. If you know your kids wake at a particular time each day, set your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier than this (only if you can spare the extra sleep – I realize this is not always possible) and have a little time to yourself to either meditate or stretch each morning. You can find a way to improve your health by prioritizing and working on your daily timetable until you are truly satisfied with it, and taking a few moments to gather your thoughts each morning can do wonders for your busy day ahead.

  2. Morning Baby Bath: If you are a stay-at-home parent and your kids are not yet school age and do not attend pre-school, a morning bath for baby is much easier than at bedtime when everyone is tired. You can take your time and have fun, especially knowing that you don’t have to get out the door urgently or by a particular time that morning.

  3. (Non-Baby) Shower: Take a long hot shower when your partner is home to look after the baby/kids. A lot of people say they rush this part of their day because they are looking after the kids while trying to shower, and this can cause unnecessary stress, so try to schedule it when you don’t have to rush. This is obviously not always possible if your partner is traveling for work or you are a single parent (unless the kids are asleep), so if you can’t schedule it for when your partner is home, try to fit it in when the baby/kids are well and truly asleep, like in the very early morning, or the late evening after the kids’ bedtimes. It sounds so simple, but it is an important act of self-care for a lot of people when it comes to their mental well-being (and it is such a common complaint that I frequently hear from parents who say they just “don’t have time”). And use the lock on the bathroom door if you have to (that’s what it’s there for) because everyone deserves some peace and quiet.

  4. Self-Care Is Not Selfish: You deserve a break and telling yourself you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” or “don’t deserve it” (i.e. feeling guilty) is not helping anyone. The analogy about the oxygen mask is popular for a reason: apply your own first before helping others. At the end of the day, you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of others effectively.

  5. Exercise Equals Happiness: I talk about exercise passionately here on the blog (and in everyday life) time and time again. This is because it genuinely works for me and I want to help others by spreading the word. Exercise is not just about your physical appearance. It is so much more. It leaves you feeling strong, confident, and most importantly, happy. Schedule it into your day just as you would with meals, appointments, and other daily tasks. Make it a non-negotiable part of your day and your body and mind will sincerely thank you.

  6. No To Multiple Meals: Parents can put a lot of pressure on themselves to please everybody at all times. The bigger the family you have, the more stressful this can become. Making a different meal for each person (and by that I mean a different recipe for each person) causes a huge amount of extra work. There is something to be said for the old-fashioned approach of telling the kids they must eat what is in front of them or nothing at all. Creating individual meals for each family member places a big and unnecessary burden on the person doing the cooking. Plan your meals by making the same for everyone and then just make minor adjustments (such as adding extra chili, garlic, or onion) to the adults’ meals. Offering a variety of simple foods is another solution. Instead of making complicated “toddler recipes” that take hours (but usually end up all over the floor) try cutting up foods such as avocado, tomatoes, or other fruits and vegetables, and offer them alongside the main meal as optional side dishes. This way everyone is happy because they are free to choose from a whole range of healthy options, and the person preparing the meal has not had to consult multiple recipes (specific dietary needs or food allergies being the obvious exception to this).

  7. Sleep Or Rest During Nap-Times: Again, not always possible or practical for everybody, as we all have different circumstances, but if at all possible make it a priority to rest and nap whenever your kids or babies do. It is easy to get into a habit of working through their nap-times and not getting any rest yourself. Pregnancy can be a particularly important time to prioritize rest and sleep, as well as when you have a newborn to look after. It can make a huge difference to “sleep when the baby sleeps”, and although some people detest this phrase (“I have too much to do!”), I find it to be a crucial strategy for avoiding burnout and exhaustion. The cooking, cleaning, and emailing can wait. I would rather tackle these tasks when well-rested; how about you?

  8. Time-Out For Adults As Well As Kids: If you have a baby or toddler who is crying or having a tantrum (or misbehaving in some way), it is understandable that you will do whatever it takes to try to fix the situation. If it goes on for a long period of time and you start to feel stressed (and especially if you don’t have any other adults around to help you), taking a time-out can be beneficial for both parent and child. If you find yourself in a moment of frustration when at home then place the child in a playpen/playard or crib for some “alone time” for just a few minutes, then head to the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, or couch for your own “time-out”. As long as your baby/child is in a safe environment, such as a crib or playpen, they won’t be harmed, and a couple of minutes of this is not neglectful, just necessary. Taking a few moments alone to brush your hair, clean your teeth, make a cup of tea, or use the bathroom is so important when it comes to self-care. Remember, it’s the little things!

  9. Rely On A Routine: Routines don’t have to be rigid. You can survive and thrive very well on a flexible routine, and it can help to remember that a routine is not just good for kids; it is also great for parents! Experiment with what works for you and then establish a routine and stick with it. Knowing what to expect is nice for everyone involved. We all have a day every now and then that just doesn’t go to plan, but if you feel that things are spiralling out of control day after day then something needs to be done to improve your mental state and well-being.

  10. Walking For Wellness: If running (and/or other types of exercise) really isn’t your thing, then getting outside for a walk can absolutely benefit you when it comes to mental and physical health and well-being. Aim for three days a week and work your way up to five days a week. It really can change your life (and your outlook). Invest in a good stroller (or a jogging stroller if you decide you want to give running a try) and aim to go out first thing in the morning for a fantastic start to the day!

So take care everyone; it sounds simple, but the little things really are the big things when it comes to self-care and finding balance. This goes for everybody, whatever your walk of life!

What does self-care and happiness mean to you?

What are your stay-at-home survival tips?

It is a very individual thing and opinions can be varied. If there is anything you would like to add, please write in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bridget @ Hot Tea Travel & Thyme 

 

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