Just caught yourself yelling at your kid for a pretty tiny reason? Feeling like you're losing your temper more than ever before, but you're too exhausted to think about it? You're probably experiencing what is popularly called single-parent stress — and it's no trifle for you or your children.
So you'd better do something about it before it goes too far. As cliche as it may sound, taking care of yourself is a key part of taking care of children. They need you to be you, just as much as you yourself do. Here are some self-care tips to help you.
What does self-care refer to?
In brief, self-care is about restoring the energy you need to function at your best. It's about being aware of how you feel and what you need, apart from the need to be there for others. And no matter what others tell you, putting your own needs first has nothing to do with selfishness. Self-care is the only way to build up the energy and strength to do the parenting tasks well, and every single person needs it — no matter how altruistic they try to be.
Main types of self-care
The major aspects of self-care include:
Physical self-care — most notably including sufficient rest, a healthy diet and exercise.
Emotional self-care — understanding your feelings and working through them, especially by sharing them with others.
Cognitive self-care — continual learning and personal growth.
Spiritual self-care — expanding your sense of self in relation to the world (e.g. via meditation, prayer or contact with nature).
How to make self-care a habit
Self-care should not be just a New Year's resolution or fancy idea recommended by friends every now and then. Here are three major tips that will make self-care a part of your life rather than just an occasional thought.
Talk to friends. Even if you feel like you've grown somewhat distant from your friends after having kids, try to spend more time with them and open up about your problems. You'll remember how much they care about you and will be surprised at how much talk can help.
Keep a diary. Get your problems out of your system by jotting them down. The best time for keeping a journal when you are alone with your thoughts is in the morning. When you put things on paper, you will better understand what is bothering you and how you may tackle the problems.
Exercise — in nature if possible. Exercise should ideally become part of your daily routine. The kids can come with you as well in a stroller or on their bikes. It's best to exercise outdoors, taking some time to watch the sunrise or sunset or listen to the birds chirping on your street. It all counts and is surely relaxing.
Most importantly, do not postpone self-care, as consequences can be dire for your personal and family life. We hope our tips help!