Self Care for Busy Parents
Jess at Coventry Rocks has written this brilliant guide to help parents during this busy time
As busy parents, we're constantly running around looking after other people, and we often forget to take care of ourselves. When we look after ourselves, it helps us to be more patient with our children, more relaxed, and it brings out our fun side. However, if you're anything like me, you'll be thinking... "but I don't have TIME for self care!"
Between school and nursery drop-offs, Zoom meetings, work deadlines, cleaning, shopping, cooking, homework and the bedtime routine, I have VERY little time for myself. What I need is some self care which is QUICK and EASY TO DO!
Self Care for Busy Parents
Self care doesn't have to mean a week-long yoga retreat (although that would be lovely!) Self care can be about doing something seemingly small, as long as it's just for you. So here's a bunch of self care ideas, most of which take under five minutes, but can turn your day around. I hope you find something that works for you!
Self Care for Busy Parents
Five Minute Fixes
Bring out the air guitar
Whether it's S Club 7's Reach For The Stars (my personal favourite), or Bon Jovi's Living On A Prayer... it really doesn't matter. Choose your favourite track, crank up the volume and pull out the air guitar. I promise you'll feel so much better (and the kids will think you're cool too!) If you really don't have the time, this also works in the shower or car!
Make walking a thing
We all know it's hard to find time to exercise, so the best thing is to plan small amounts into your day. Park further away at the school run, or walk to the shops rather than driving. It might not seem like much, but if it gets you moving, it will help.
I always found the word 'Mindfulness' to be a little daunting, until Leah from Peace & Parent taught me that you can achieve mindfulness in just a minute or two.
Hold something in your hand, it could be a leaf, a button, a piece of jewellery... and take a minute to focus on it. Does it feel hard or soft? Is it warm or cold? Study all the delicate details. Giving the object your undivided attention for just a minute or two will help to clear and refocus your mind.
- Leah, Peace & Parent and Mum of 2.
Stretching is a great way to check in with yourself and take care of your body. Stretching loosens your muscles which relieves fatigue and increases blood flow. This is especially important if you're hunched over a screen all day, breastfeeding, or carrying children around. Here are some useful stretches from bupa.co.uk.
Hug someone (or yourself)
Hugs can provide a lot of comfort - they can help you feel connected to someone and they increase feelings of happiness and love. But when circumstances prevent you from being with loved ones, you might feel low and crave the physical affection. I love this article from healthcare.com about hugging yourself - the benefits, and how to do it.
Get the giggles
It's so true, laughter is the best medicine, so try to make laughter part of your day. This one is easy to do with kids around, just embrace your silly side and go with it!
As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. But by seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.
Next time you're craving a coffee in the morning, try a smoothie instead. It only takes a few minutes to whizz up a smoothie, and you can pack it full of vitamins and nutrients. AND you'll feel smug for the rest of the day! I love the recipes on fitfoodiefinds.com - find some smoothie inspiration here.
Seek out the sun
I know the weather isn't exactly on our side at the moment, but when the sun does come out, we need to make the most of it. Self.com have written a fantastic article outlining the benefits of exposure to natural light, including better mood, improved sleep, and even weight loss.
Phone a friend
It's easy to feel isolated in this crazy journey of parenthood, especially when our little ones are new. Making connections is good for the soul - it allows us to share our worries, it gives us some perspective, and a good friend will always get us smiling and laughing. See, another one ticked off the list!
Paint your nails
There is no denying that a little pampering will make you feel good, and looking down at brightly coloured fingernails tip-tapping on the keyboard will surely cheer up your work day!
We all loved colouring as a kid, and I'll be honest I do enjoy colouring with my little one. But did you know it's great for our mental wellbeing? Research states that focusing on something repetitive and relaxing helps us distance ourselves from life's stresses, resulting in benefits that are similar to meditation. So grab your best colouring pencils and get started!
Self Care for Busy Parents
When you have a little more time
Run.... a bath
According to theguardian.com, a regular warm bath can have a greater effect on mood than physical exercise. Here’s how to truly enjoy bathtime, even if you prefer a shower.
Once the children are snuggled up in bed, I sneak upstairs to enjoy some me-time and a hot bubble bath. Sometimes I like to binge watch Netflix in the bath, but sometimes I just close my eyes and enjoy the quiet. Bliss!
- Kerry, local mum of 2
Clutter can have a psychological impact on parents, and add to feelings of stress and negativity. This doesn't mean you have to get rid of everything, but getting rid of junk can help to reduce stress and make you feel more relaxed at home. Get inspired by reading 'How getting rid of 'stuff' saved my motherhood.'
Curl up with a good book
Reading is brilliant for reducing stress and clearing the mind. It can be difficult to find the time, so you could try reading during your lunch break, skip TV for a few nights a week, or you could try listening to an audio book whilst you're cooking.
My favourite way to unwind after an exhausting day is to snuggle up with a good book. I love immersing myself in a story, it's great escapism and really helps me switch off!
- Elise, local mum
Meditation can have a positive impact on many areas of your life including helping to decrease stress, manage your emotions, and being more present with your kids. If you're not sure where to begin, there are lots of online options and apps to help you get started.
Donate to the food bank, help an elderly relative with their shopping, or mow your neighbour's lawn. Believe it or not, helping others has been shown to make people happier, and let's be honest—it feels great.
Volunteering your time, money, or energy to help others doesn’t just make the world better—it also makes you better. Studies indicate that the very act of giving back to the community boosts your happiness, health, and sense of well-being.
It's a well known fact that exercise is not only great for our bodies, but it also has amazing benefits for our minds. So if you have the time, getting out for a walk, cycle or run will give you an instant lift. Stuck in the house during nap time? Then head to YouTube and try one of the 10 minute workouts from our favourite cockney Joe Wicks.
Do a little of what you love
Whatever it is you love to do, schedule the time to do it. Cook your favourite meal from scratch, or having a glass of wine with friends. Binge watch Greys Anatomy, or have a gaming session on the Xbox. Or perhaps, quite simply, curl up on the sofa and have a nap. Finding just a sliver of time for YOU will feel like a holiday.
Let's face it, we are all a little bit addicted to our devices. OK, A LOT addicted! We have developed a 'Fear of Missing Out' and it's really not good for our state of mind. Find out why it's important to unplug, and the benefits it can have in your life.
Our world may be changing, but the true nature of life is not. Life, at its best, is happening right in front of you. These experiences will never repeat themselves. These conversations are unfiltered and authentic. And the love is real. But if we are too busy staring down at our screen, we’re gonna miss all of it.
Breathe in the joy of being a parent
Take the time to just 'be' with your kids. Kiss your babies, smell their heads, tickle them, watch their favourite movie, and dance around the kitchen. Because being a parent is the most amazing and important thing you will ever do, and you are doing an amazing job.
A final thought
I hope this has been a useful read for you, and that you have found some ways to incorporate a little bit of self care into your days. One final thought is this:
We are important. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, we should do little things every day to take care of US. Because if we take better care of ourselves, we will be able to give a lot more to our children.
That's all for now, I'm off to run a bubble bath and phone a friend! Take care of yourself!