Our Top Parenting Tip is NOT What You Think It Is
People often ask us for our top parenting tip. They usually expect us to say something about reading to kids, giving them loads of cuddles, or playing games with them. Sure, these things are all important, but they're not the MOST important.
Most parents are surprised to learn that our top parenting tip isn't directly related to kids at all. It's about looking after the parent's needs. This is something that we call self-care.
Self-care is exactly what it sounds like - we need to take care of ourselves. We get a lot of surprised reactions to this. Many parents think that it's selfish to prioritize ourselves, but it's really not. After all, you can't pour from an empty cup. It's not possible to be the kind and patient parent that we all want to be when we are completely depleted. Framing it this way often makes it easier for parents to accept the importance of self-care.
Self-care involve anything that re-energizes you. Some examples include:
- Social interaction (a meal or chat with a loved one)
- Sensory stimulation (a cool swim or snuggling up under a warm blanket)
- Spirituality (prayer or meditation)
- Pleasurable activities (anything that you enjoy)
- Mastery (learning something new)
- Emotional expression (laughing or crying)
- Physical activity (of any intensity)
What are the two basic steps for practicing self-care?
1. Making the time for it.
We live busy lives, so it's understandable to think that there's no time for self-care. But self-care doesn't have to be time-consuming. It can be enjoying a cup of tea by yourself. It's important for us to proactively make the time for it. This is the calendar that I mentioned in the video - use it to identify where you might be able to make time for yourself.
2. Stick to it.
As parents, we have a tendency to prioritize others' well-being at the expense of our own. As a result, the most well-intentioned parents will often cancel their self-care plans. Resist the urge to do this as much as possible and, in the case of an emergency, make sure to reschedule it for a later time (and then stick to it as much as possible)!
Good luck with your self-care practice - let us know what worked for you (and what didn't)!
Remember, we are here to support you whether you need to heal or want to thrive. Many parents start to feel stressed and overwhelmed by their day-to-day responsibilities. You are not alone. Please get in touch if you need individual support. We are also running a 6-week course on reducing stress and worry, in both English and Arabic.