Parenting is simultaneously the most difficult and most rewarding experience a person could have. But no one really prepares you for the difficult. And it’s not even their fault. Not only is every parent’s experience different, but every parent also handles it differently. Someone else’s experience may be completely different from your own.
Still, every parent needs to take time for themselves. Just like it’s unhealthy to bottle up emotions, it’s unhealthy to push your limits as a parent. Don’t wait until you’re at your wits end to start taking care of yourself. Being the best parent means being the best version of yourself. And that means staying mentally and physically healthy.
Here are some tips for taking care of yourself while balancing busy work and family life.
1. Find healthy coping mechanisms
Most of us have leaned on a crutch like alcohol to unwind after a particularly stressful day. And while we may be convinced that we’re “treating ourselves” to our favorite microbrew, this particular crutch can be damaging.
When you have alcohol at night, it can interfere with your ability to get a restful sleep. It may also lead to a problem if you’re drinking too much too often.
If you’re currently in this place, it’s important to be kind to yourself. Addiction is a disease, and not an intended result. Seek addiction treatment and continue being the awesome parent you are.
2. Make time for exercise
Exercise provides a healthy release, and it will keep your mind and body healthy. You don’t have to be a gym rat to get fit. If you’re not currently exercising, you can even benefit from committing to a 30-minute walk every day.
Regardless of where you are currently, try to up your exercise game slightly. This is especially helpful if you’re feeling stressed. It may feel difficult at first, but it’ll soon feel more like self-care than work.
3. Hang out with other parents
Especially when your kids are young, being a parent can feel like an isolating experience. So much of your time is wrapped up in caring for your kids basic needs that you almost feel like you’ve lost your identity. You need some social time, but alone time isn’t always an option. This is why it can be so helpful to make friends with parents whose kids are around the same age as yours. They understand where you’re at, and they’ll welcome the company.
If you don’t know anyone you can hang out with, consider joining a local parents group.
Some of you may be chuckling as you read this tip, keep an open mind. In most cases, it is possible to find time for meditation. It may mean waking up early, but it’s possible.
Meditation has many benefits that’ll make your efforts worthwhile. It can reduce stress levels, increase memory and uplift your spirits. In other words, it can help you be a better parent. You parent at your best when you’re feeling calm and patient. Meditation can help.
5. Eat better
Good nutrition is one of the first things that goes out the window whenever we’re busy. That’s when we’re picking up fast food or binging on junk to keep the hunger pangs at bay. Nutrition can be a confusing topic, but there are a few simple ways you can eat better without giving yourself a dizzying headache.
a. Cook more meals at home – When you cook at home, you have control over the ingredients. Use fresh ingredients to get the best nutritional bang for your buck.
b. Eat more vegetables – Vegetables are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. You don't have to become a vegetarian, but if you want to be healthier, fill your plate with veggies. Especially the green ones.
c. Avoid processed foods – Processed foods are almost always high in sodium and fat, and they are also likely to contain chemical preservatives. Steer clear.
The best thing you can do for your kids is to take care of yourself first. This way, you’ll have more energy for the here and now, and you’re more likely to be around for years to come. Follow these simple tips to take care of your mental and physical self.