The truth of the matter is, all parents make mistakes. This does not make you a bad person or a bad parent. So many parents feel guilty. You feel you aren’t doing enough for your child. When in reality, you are. You do the best you can with what you have as a parent.
What’s most important is that your child feels loved. When you become a parent, you are led to believe that you are supposed to be an expert as a parent. Truth be told, nobody is an expert at parenting. You usually do what your parents did, whether you liked it or not.
The good new is, there are lots of resources out there for you these days. So, take advantage of them. Talk to friends and family. Go to a parenting class. It’s good to hear different perspectives. After having children, a lot of parent put themselves last. Over time, you can burnout or become resentful. Here are 15 tips to help you take care of yourself as a parent. They aren’t only good for you but they are good for your family:
- Say no. Stop saying yes when you mean no. We know you want to be helpful. But, this will only cause resentment in the long run. Make sure you stick to your no. This is also a great way to get respect from your family.
- Ask for alone time in the house. Send the kids out with your husband the next time he runs some errands. Many women benefit from some alone time in the house. Your house is your castle, so, treat it that way.
- Spend time with your friends. Make sure you have a girls night out. Go to your favorite restaurant or hang out spot. Catch up on the latest topics with your friends. This will help remind you there is more to life than family.
- Pick up a new hobby. Try a cooking class or take a knitting class. You can also invite a friend. Trying something new is a great way to set a good example for your children. It's easy to get stuck doing the same thing. This will help break the monotony.
- Change how you prioritize your list. Back before marriage, kids, home and a job, you put yourself first. And, it was easy. Stop putting yourself last on the list and start to put yourself first on the list. Many women feel guilty about this. But, after they add some simple self-care to their life they begin to feel better.
- Stop beating yourself up. Mistakes are part of life. We all make them and we all live through them. The best thing you can do is learn from them. Nobody is perfect. It's important to model this for your children, that way they won't feel like they have to be perfect.
- Set a goal, but be open minded. Instead of setting a bunch of goals for yourself and the family. Set one goal for yourself. Leave the date of completion open. For example, maybe you'd like to take a class online. Go ahead and sign up for it without making it about a grade or being competitive with the other students. Give yourself permission to change your goal, if you need to.
- Make exercise fun. If you enjoy exercise you are more likely to stick to it. Take a cardio or a spin class with some friends. They usually play good music. This helps get your mind off of everything else. Then, just enjoy moving your body.
- It's alright to ask for help. I think when an adult becomes a parent they feel a lot of pressure to know everything. Hopefully, by now you've realized that is not the case. I think becoming a parent makes you realize how much you don't know. Asking for help is a skill. It can really help you and your family. All parents go through highs and lows. Try asking your friends how they have gotten through the lows. Make sure you have a support network of family and friends.
- It's alright to have bad emotions. When you have a child that may be suffering from anxiety or depression. You may feel there is no room for your emotions. Or, maybe your husband is at work a lot and his job is very stressful. This may make you feel like you can't complain or feel bad. It's important to allow yourself to experience your emotions. Whether they are anger, sadness, anxiety or happiness. Nobody is happy all the time. This will make you feel pressured.
- Laugh. It's just one word. Take time out to enjoy life and laugh. You can do this with your family or alone. Watch a comedy that you know will make you laugh. Enjoy the time that you have for yourself.
- Play. You're never to old to play. Go to the park and swing on the swings or run through the playground like you did when you were a kid. Ride your bike and let the wind run through your hair. Kick the ball at the beach. Just have some fun playing. This is good for you physically and emotionally.
- Slow down and relax. Carve out five minutes and do some deep breathing. This is also known as meditation. Five minutes a day is not much but over time it will make a big difference. You can always add another five minutes, try to get up to 30 minutes. Your mind and body will appreciate it.
- Take a yoga class. This is great self-care. Yoga is about the mind and body connection. Add at least one yoga class a week to your schedule. There are many great classes out there, so, you shouldn't have a hard time finding one.
- Take a bubble bath. This is a great way to end the day. Use your favorite soap and light a candle. Take a deep breath and just relax. Water is very calming. Make sure to clear your mind and stretch your toes.
Remember to take it day by day. If you have a bad day, start the next day fresh. You go through seasons. One season doesn’t last forever. Most importantly, make sure to forgive yourself and let go of your mistakes.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Mateo, CA. She has helped many parents decrease stress in their life, and feel happier. For more information, please visit www.LessonsforLove.com.