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Parent Self-Care

22 March
Posted by:
Michael Grose

Many parents function in a state of near exhaustion. Tiredness and child-rearing go hand in hand for many, especially if they hold down a job as well.

It shouldn’t be that way.
It’s one thing if you have babies or toddlers, as they are demanding and time-consuming stages of development.

Many parents seem to stay tired throughout all their children’s life stages, which strains family life and can make parenting feel a chore.

Parents of twins also seem to never get much of a break as if it’s not one wanting your time and attention it’s the other.

Modern parents are busy people. Kids keep parents busier than ever as many have a number of extra-curricular activities, which invariably require parent involvement, at least as a driver. The mantra of ‘be involved’ in your child’s life can take its toll.

It’s hard to nurture your kids when there’s nothing left to give, so it’s vital for parents to look after themselves, and make themselves top priority, at least some of the time. Here are some ideas to help you cope, if you find yourself fighting off exhaustion, or even if you just need a lift.

Take mini-breaks

Taking short breaks are great for your mental health and wellbeing as well as your relationships. Taking breaks is hard for some mothers, who are hard-wired to look after the well-being of others. But you do a better job when you are fresh. With babies and toddlers take short breaks during the day when their asleep or otherwise occupied.
With older kids get into the habit of taking some downtime when they’re around so that they learn that you are off-duty some of the time.

Regular weekly catch-ups, nights out and weekends away are other types of mini-breaks that can recharge your batteries and build relationships as well.

Have a laugh

Humour is a great coping mechanism and a great way to get some perspective. Seek out funny people, watch more comedies and have a laugh at some the weird and wonderful things your kids do and say. You’ll feel better for it and more able to cope when things get a little tough.

Share the load

Despite all the labour-saving devices currently available parents are busier than ever. Despite the current talk about shared parenting child-rearing is rarely divided equally. One parent, usually a mother, takes more of the load and the balance is often way out of whack. If you find yourself doing everything around the house as well as dealing with kids’ uncooperative behaviour, then start giving some of the responsibilities away. Share the discipline load with your partner if possible and make sure your kids do their bit around the house as well. Remember, you job is to make yourself redundant so start getting your kids to help from the earliest possible age.

Build up your networks

It’s hard to raise kids in isolation so make sure you have good social connections to support you on the parenting journey. Examine your support network and check that you have access to a regular babysitter, someone who you can talk to about your children and someone outside your immediate family to go to just for a chat or laugh. If not, then put some plans in place to fill the gaps.

Ease the pressure

Today’s parents are older and more set in their ways than parents of previous generations. It can be quite a shock that when kids come along you may have to lower your standards around such things as household tidiness, your own appearance and also your children’s behaviour.

Kids wear L-plates when it come to behaving well so if you want perfect behaviour then the chances are that you’ll be disappointed by at least one of your children. Make sure your expectations of children and yourself are realistic, rather than excessive, so you’re not putting undue pressure on yourself.

There is an end-game

Today’s parenting problems will be soon be replaced with new ones. Nothing stays the same. Remember that parenting isn’t forever, although it can seem that way at times. In a blink of an eye they’ll be grown up, moved away and you’ll be staring at empty bedroom wondering where did the time go. Then again they still may be living with you when they’re forty, which is an equally scary thought. That’s why you need to be making yourself redundant right now!
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