Do you have those friends who read three books a week, do yoga before work, take long evening walks with their partner, and can't stop talking about how great meditation is for your mental health? Yes, me too...and they don't have children.
As a mother of a 5 year old and a toddler, I have this conversation with my friends a lot. Yes, I should be practicing self-care...but when on earth would I? We all KNOW as parents how important it is to take care of ourselves. When we can stay connected to our own well-being, it overflows onto our children and we're more patient, loving, joyful parents. However, knowing and doing are completely different things.
Between morning routines, drop off, work, pick-up, soccer, dinner, bedtime, and sleep (well, we’ll call it sleep), when on earth do we find the time or energy to run...or bike...or stretch...or meditate...or really do anything for ourselves? Yeah. I can't even shower alone, I can’t imagine trying to meditate. I personally get caught in a constant cycle of I should, I will, and I didn't today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe on Sunday. Maybe next Sunday.
The struggle is real. It's hard. But, at the end of the day you are better for it, and according to child development experts, your kids will be better for it too. New parents, learn this and practice this now, before the inevitable “busy” of parenting takes over.
To get you started, here is a list of 45 self-care ideas. It’s okay to start small! Just taking time to consciously breathe during the day is a step forward...and we ALL have time to breathe. Some are big, some are small, but all of them are doable.
Take time to dream about you
Get a massage
Go to Yoga
Unplug (for an hour or maybe a day)
Take deep breaths at a stop light
Get a manicure or pedicure
Choose a healthy snack
Go for a walk or run
Just be still
Find the sun and warm up in it
Call a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile
Write or journal
Make a connection with someone you don’t know
Plan a vacation
Watch the sunset
Watch the sunrise
Cook your favorite meal
Listen to your favorite song (or album)
Make a list of things you are grateful for
Get rid of clothes that are old or don’t fit
Paint or color
Hire a sitter and do whatever you want
Ask for help
Go to bed early
Create a quiet space in your home and go there
Take a long shower or bath
Shop for yourself (no kid clothes allowed)
Get something waxed
Listen to an energizing podcast
Visit your favorite museum
Take a community education class
Have coffee with a good friend
Acknowledge and release your stress
Revel in the absolute joy of being a parent
My message to you, new parents and pros... make time. You are important. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Do little things every day that take care of you. Maybe just start by doing one a day, maybe you do as many as you can. It’s called practice for a reason and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Start today, and make yourself a priority now and every day after.