Parenting is hard work. But when we're critical of ourselves and have a lot of negative self-talk, it can become downright discouraging.
Have you ever thought to yourself, "I'm really a bad mom!"? With this full-time, never-let-up job, it's easy to slip into feeling overwhelmed. Many of today's parents live thousands of miles away from grandparents and extended family, which was a major support in earlier times. So how do you parent consciously, keep a work-life balance, and create a fun-loving, happy family, given the multitude of demands?
Estimated reading time: 4 minutesMost parents don't realize that their number one responsibility is self-care; it can even feel selfish when you have children. Every parent knows that there's always one more thing to accomplish: laundry, dinner prep, grocery shopping, help with homework, bath time, and birthday party planning; the list is an infinity circle!
Symptoms of a Lack of Self-Care
However, as parents, we all know what we look and sound like when we haven't taken care of ourselves.
- crabby and irritable
- more reactive to our children's behavior
- stressed and preoccupied with just keeping up
- sometimes resentful for being on call 24-7
- overwhelmed and exhausted
- often feeling guilty for our parental subpar interactions
- less creative and affectionate
- our patience is thin and we may yell at our kids
Let's face it! We're a whole lot more fun to be around—and parenting is immensely easier—when we're well-rested, well-exercised, and well-fed physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Our First Responsibility and Priority as a Parent
It's OUR job to stay encouraged and take care of ourselves. It's not our kids' fault that we cut ourselves so thin. So if you're feeling down about your parenting, don't despair!
Whether you're a new mom or have been in this game for years, it's crucial to be kind to yourself and give yourself the support you need. With more conscious parenting, you can up-level your parenting tool belt and be energized for whatever challenges come your way. And the most effective ways to truly be conscious parents are to raise self-awareness and give yourself compassion while striving to be your best each day.
Below are some parenting skills and tips for cultivating an attitude of positivity and finding that work-life balance. It's critical to stay encouraged as you navigate this most important yet challenging role.
Related reading: "What Is Resiliency and Why Parents Need It!"
Parenting Skills and Tips to Encourage You in Your Parenting
A regular self-care practice is at the heart of every well-balanced family and happy parent. This commitment to well-being means you are taking time for yourself to relax, recharge, and connect with what truly matters to you. Of course, it will look different for everyone, whether you get a massage or just spend time alone each day. The important thing is that you take the time to recharge and nurture your well-being. Overall, self-care is the foundation of conscious parenting.
Often, I hear parents declare a lack of time as the number one reason for not taking care of themselves. Remember, it doesn't have to be a weekend yoga retreat to replenish yourself. Here are some self-care ideas that take 15 minutes or less to get you started!
Journaling is one of the most powerful tools for self-awareness and studies have shown that this practice destresses and helps process emotions. You can gain clarity and insight into your inner world by regularly writing down your thoughts and feelings. Not only can writing improve your parenting, but it can also serve as a little me time.
One way to incorporate journaling into your daily routine is by writing about your most significant parenting challenges. This focus can be a great way to release stress and illuminate potential solutions.
Some other journaling ideas include writing about what you're grateful for, brainstorming your dreams and goals, and reflecting on how you want to feel each day. Bringing to mind qualities that you love about each child also bolsters the natural feel-good drugs in your system.
Another fabulous activity is visualization. This practice can catapult you out of hum-drum feelings and significantly boost your ability to create the happy family life you envision.
So if you're looking for an easy way to start self-care, try journaling and visualizing.
Another quick way to recharge is by exercising. There are plenty of virtual exercise programs that you can do in the living room, even while your children are home. Even if you only set a timer for 15 minutes and do yoga or a round of sit-ups and jumping jacks, you'll feel better. And exercising while your children are present is healthy modeling. Or sometimes, taking a slow and gentle walk around the block can act as a reset. Then when you have more time, go for a longer run or hike.
Related reading: "Why Exercising as a Family Makes Good Sense."
- Pampering Yourself
Along with exercising, pampering yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically is another excellent way to treat yourself. This self-care ritual could be as simple as taking a hot bubble bath in candlelight or reading a book in a cozy, quiet spot. Or you can splurge on an at-home spa day with facials, manicures, and pedicures. Again, we tend to reserve pampering ourselves in ways that take much longer. However, if you work these little practices into everyday life, you'll build momentum in self-care.
- Practicing Mindfulness
A mindfulness practice is a splendid way to show children how to self-calm and keep their cool. When you're on the verge of losing your temper, tell your child, "I need some quiet time for myself." Then, sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes and start deep breathing. Focus your mind on your inhale and exhale.
With every exhale, release frustration, stress, and anxiousness. Breathe in joy, peace, and love. This simple exercise can completely renew you in less than 3-4 minutes. You can even do this with a toddler while they play independently. Sound too good to be true? ... then have them sit quietly on your lap. Regardless, modeling self-soothing techniques is an incredible way to bring more calmness to the family scene.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
Additionally, it's important to set healthy boundaries for yourself and not overcommit. This limit could mean saying no to a request for help from a friend, in-laws wanting to stop by unannounced, or setting limits with bringing work home. If you're a Mompreneur, one of the most vital things you can do is structure your time and prevent work emails, phone calls, and obligations from bleeding into family life too often or too much. And if you do need to work after the kids go to bed, designate one room in your home with a door for quiet and privacy.
Dive Deeper: "Parenting Tips for Saying No and Setting Boundaries."
Reserve Time for Friendship
And finally, remember to take time with your friends. You can even combine friendship with a self-care recharge at the spa! But whether it's a quick coffee break, a spa day, or an evening out with other parents, make socializing a priority. It will help you feel more connected, energized, and inspired as a parent. And if your spouse isn't available or you can't find a babysitter to go out, have friends over for a potluck!
With tools like journaling, setting boundaries, and developing a self-care routine, you can care for yourself and be the best parent possible. Whether you're looking for quick ways to recharge or long-term practices that cultivate self-care, these simple tips can help you rise above the "mom guilt" and rekindle the joy of parenting.
So, the next time you start thinking you're a bad mom, stop yourself, say three encouraging things to yourself, and make an appointment with yourself for self-care!
Deep Dive: "Am I a Bad Mom? Transforming Parenting Burnout to Fun, Positive Parenting."
And if you’d like parenting support or personalized parenting advice, contact us at Heartmanity, or call 406-577-2100. A parent coach is eager to help you learn parenting skills for greater ease and fun.