We’ve seen our share of memes that joke about how much work it is to be a parent. We laugh, because we completely understand.
At the end of the day, we are emotionally and physically exhausted, and have an internal battle whether or not to stay up late to get some alone time, or “catch up” on sleep.
It’s important to take care of yourself so you can feel recharged and ready to battle another day. There are a variety of ways you can take care of yourself, which is why we asked parents what their self-care strategies were:
There’s no denying that exercise and feeding your body good nutritious foods helps you feel energized
Tiffany, working mom of 2: Working out has been my “me” time; it keeps me sane and I always feel good about myself after. I have made it a priority and worked around other things in my life to make sure I get that time. Luckily, I have the help of my family to watch my kids. If it’s important enough and makes you live a healthier and happier life in general, you’ll make it a priority and plan to make it happen.
Lisa, mom of 4, fitness instructor: Exercise and feeding my body good nutritious foods through the weekdays. I try to plan healthy meals that I can also eat for lunch the next day. If I get at least one good helping of veggies in a day I feel so accomplished.
Create an Ambience
When you’re in survival mode counting down the hours until the next nap or bedtime, it can be a struggle to live in the moment. So turn up the music and embrace the chaos or create schedules to follow.
Sam, single mom of 1: Listening to music helps lighten the mood in our home. Whenever it’s time to clean up, I put on music to motivate the kids. Sometimes we get off task and have a little dance party, but it’s much more enjoyable this way. It’s amazing how much an upbeat song can give me energy to play and interact with my kids.
Enforce Quiet Time
A little down time to take deep breaths and have a space for yourself does wonders. It is also helpful for kids since they learn to independently play.
Haylie, mom of 3 under 3: I learned to enforce quiet time from my mom, who had seven kids. Even when the kids stop taking naps there is quiet time in the afternoon. They go to their room to spend some quiet alone time, while younger siblings are napping. Then I get some time to myself.
I find the quiet time important for keeping my patience with the kids later in the day. And I find it helpful for them to unwind and learn to play by themselves.
Lisa: Reading is my happy place. If I can get the kids set up with coloring books, toys, or a show, I know I can get in at least 20 minutes.
Establish a Set Bedtime
When your child has a good bedtime routine, there are fewer tantrums and delays.
Haylie H: My kids go to bed by 8 pm, and I get a couple hours of alone time to spend with my husband or by myself.
Growing up my bedtime was always 8 until I reached 7th grade and then it only shifted back to 8:30. I always complained about this, but as a parent, I see the value in having that time in the evening to relax and unwind from the day.
Schedule a Date Night
It’s worth every penny you have to pay the babysitter. Or you can find a friend or family member who is willing to do a monthly swap.
Lisa: I like to go on a date night once a week with the hubs and get dessert.
Room for Improvement
It’s easy to push aside your needs and get caught up in the daily chores of parenting. We understand.
Charisse: I could definitely use better self-care. However, I usually find myself reach a breaking point and go into hiding and needing my husband to pick up whatever is left over.
Tara: Balance is hard to find and some days I don’t have any. But to have humility in understanding that it’s ok to ask for help – has been helpful.
Rachel: I try to schedule fun things just for me every month while my husband takes the kiddos. Like lunch dates, book groups, and just going out by myself.
Recently, I’ve made it a point to get ready in the morning and say some positive affirmations to myself while I’m getting ready. It REALLY changes my mood for the better taking 15 minutes to focus on just me!
Working Outside the Home
Some moms who were once stay-at-home-moms enjoy returning to work, which provides them more adult social interactions and opportunities to hone professional skills.
Emma: I like working a few hours a week. It gives me an excuse to pay a babysitter and get out of the house and do something rewarding where I can monotask.
Late Night Solitude
There’s a reason we parents let out a sigh of relief once we say goodnight to our little ones. Even if the laundry is piling high and you are busy cleaning the whirlwind of toys, you can spend a few minutes that are just for you.
Loyd, dad of 2: I stay up late at night to get “me” time.
Julia, mom of 2: With both kids in school, I make sure to take some time during the day to read or do something just for me because once school is out we are busy with homework and activities.
I also ask my spouse for help. He started taking over bath time, which allowed me to get dinner cleaned up. Now most days once the kids are in bed I’m done working too and can choose to read, watch TV, or whatever.
Finding opportunities to serve others in your community may seem counterintuitive if you’re a busy parent, but ask anyone who volunteers, and they will tell you it enriches their life.
Julia: To give me a sense of purpose I also seek out volunteer jobs. I’m busier for it but I feel like I’m making more of a difference in my world, which is important to me. And yes, I also like to feel appreciated which is sometimes lost when one is parent not working for money.
I know I’m appreciated by my family but it started to not feel like enough and I needed something that’s just mine, that I choose even if it makes me busier and that’s why I started teaching fitness again and seeking more involved volunteer jobs.
Most days, twenty-four hours doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done. We may have to accept we won’t get everything done, and it’s okay to take care of ourselves before everything on the to-do list gets checked off.
We hope you can adopt a few of these self-care strategies and allow yourself the ‘me’ time you deserve.