Those of you who are parents know that parenting is not the easiest thing you have ever done, to say the least! It takes a lot of physical, emotional, and mental energy. Parenting is also fun, of course; and if you let it, it can be the best teacher you’ll ever have as well as the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.
True enough, parenting is hard for most of us, but you can do it and even enjoy the ride. You just need to give yourself the tools and support you need.
How do you do that?
I tell you this all the time—take better care of yourself.
Look at parenting like anything else you do in life that you want to achieve and be successful at. You get educated about it, you get support, and then you do what you have to do, including take care of yourself, so you can achieve your goal.
If your goal is to pass a test, you learn the new skill—meaning you study and practice, and maybe get some teaching or tutoring, and then the night before a test you eat a good meal and get plenty of sleep.
If your goal is to be a great parent (which I’m sure it is), and you’re struggling a bit (which most of us do from time to time) then help yourself toward that goal by taking better care of yourself.
Most parents take better care of themselves when preparing for a test than they do when preparing to succeed at parenting. This seems kinda crazy to me. Parenting is much harder than taking a test. You are learning new skills every day, and need to do what you can to be at your best to be able to learn.
The first step is to know yourself and what you need. Don’t sacrifice yourself if you don’t have to. One of the skills I teach is allowing yourself to quickly notice what you really need, and then finding a way to fit it in that works for you and your family.
Let me tell you a personal story.
My son has been having health problems, and has been spending more time than usual with me. So when I dropped him off at daycare today, he begged me to not leave him. He wanted to stay with me. I’m taking about uncontrollable crying. This ripped my heart out, and made me feel sooo guilty. We all want to make our kids happy, and often sacrifice ourselves in our attempts to do so. I struggle with the same things as any parent.
I almost took him home. However, I took a couple of deep breaths, and used one of the techniques I teach my clients, and was able to ground myself and make the best choice at the time. I made sure that nothing has happened at the daycare that would be putting him in harm’s way, and then I was able to realize that I really needed the time to write this letter and do many other things that I would struggle with getting done if he was around. I am so glad I made that choice.
He is having fun (I have to admit, I sent his care provider a couple of texts to make sure of that), and I took a walk, meditated, coached a couple of clients ,and got a lot of work done. Now, I am on my way to pick up my son. And I feel great because I took time to give myself a bit of self care. I took care of my guilty feelings, and was able to realize that this was coming up for me because I am worried about my son’s health and just want to snuggle him and watch him to make sure he is okay. However, the truth is that by taking time to give to myself and keep up with my work, I feel renewed and can better care for him.
By the way, I didn’t have to spend a long time on my self care. Recognizing that I needed it, and then doing one of the five-minute exercises that I teach, was more than enough. Self care doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of time on yourself. It’s about learning a technique that works for you, and using it—regularly.