Let’s be honest - the last few months have been strange, to say the least. On top of the mental and emotional burden of life during a pandemic, parents, in particular, have been through a lot.
More than ever, there’s an increasing need for self-care and ‘Me-time’. So let’s hail Summer 2021 the summer of self-care. Not sure where to start? Read on for a few suggestions to get you started.
Sleep is something parents tend to get a lot less of once they have kids. When there is time, such as when the kids are in bed, many parents prioritise cramming in as much as possible to feel they’ve made the most of it.
In reality, ensuring you’re well-rested too is so important. If possible, try and create a relaxing bedtime routine for yourself. Don’t bring work to bed, and try and keep your phone away to prevent getting sucked into a social media rabbit hole before you go to sleep. Avoid caffeinated food and drinks before bedtime to avoid sleep interference that will stop you from getting your precious 7-9 hours.
Mindfulness for parents can take many forms. For some people, it might look like a sitting meditation with slow, relaxed breathing. For others, it might be more movement or task-based.
Writing is itself a form of mindfulness, so journaling can be a great way to find a moment of calm. This can be down first thing in the morning to get your thoughts down fresh after waking up, or at the end of the day as you begin to wind down, as a way of taking stock of the day.
Reading, sketching, or just sitting and taking the time to enjoy a nice warm drink. There are so many ways to enjoy mindfulness. Try and reconnect with the things that bring you joy. As parents, it can be easy to get lost in the routine of housework, chores, and the hectic nature of family life. If you’ve really got your hands full, you can get your little ones involved in your mindfulness practice with you, too!
As cliched as it sounds, try and take the time to nourish your body well. Good food fuels your body, and releases happy hormones known as endorphins. As parents, we often put our children first and, despite our best efforts, let our own habits slide.
Make sure to drink lots of water, and introduce more movement into your days. Even if it’s just walking around the block at lunchtimes, after work, or even with your baby. Getting some fresh air and being outdoors can do wonders for your mental health, even if you don’t end up getting very far.
While you’re out, take in your surroundings, and notice the small details of what’s going on around you. It could be the light breeze, the flowers or weeds lining the path you’re walking on, or just the sounds you can hear around you.
Call a friend you haven’t spoken to for a while! Connecting with friends and family can help give you a fresh perspective on things, and generally lift your mood. This is especially important if you’ve found yourself lost in a baby bubble, or have been spending a lot of time with your kids.
When was the last time you bought something for yourself? Not for the kids or your other half, but something you truly wanted? Not needed, but wanted. Whether it's a book you've been wanting to read, or an item of clothing you've had your eye on for a while. It doesn't have to be anything earth-shattering, just something that will make you happy. And if you're in need of something more experiential, why not pamper yourself by taking a long, uninterrupted bath or shower? Follow-up with all your favourite skincare rituals or a face mask to make yourself feel good inside and out.
As you take time to slow down, consider how you can include more of these moments in your day-to-day. Learning how to implement self-care practices in your life on a more regular basis can be difficult at first, but doing so can help prevent burn-out and improve your mental state. Discuss this with your partner, and try reorienting both of your duties to ensure balance and harmony. Parenting has a tendency to take over everything, but make sure you both learn to honour your priorities, your to-dos, and most of all your down-time. Afterall, you deserve it!