The Importance of Self Care for Parents

“When you’re good to yourself, you’re good to me. So now and then, have a day away. Buy a gift for yourself, I’ll share it too, for your feelings flow out to me.” -Ruth Reardon, Listening To The Littlest

Summer is halfway over and fall is peeking around the corner. Eventually, school will start again and your family’s schedule will be crammed with homework, play dates, sports, and activities. Although it will be nice to be back in a routine, and very important for kids, the demands of family life can leave many parents feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Between the driving, appointments, grocery shopping, disciplining and everything else, parents find very little time to focus on themselves. Luckily, there is still plenty of time until then, and while the days are still long, and the schedules less hectic, summer offers parents the perfect opportunity to cultivate and grow a habit of self-care.

What’s the big deal? Some parents feel guilty for spending time on themselves or think that they don’t deserve it. It’s time to shift that thinking! When you don’t take care of yourself you put stress on your body and your mind. This can lead to physical symptoms such as a lower immune system and negative mental health effects like depression and difficulty with anger management. 

What are the benefits? Besides the long list of personal benefits self-care provides, self-care also affects the people around you. In the words of Charlie, the adoptee in BPAR’s book, Adoption Is a Lifelong Journey, “By taking care of you, you take care of me.” When you take care of your self, you are taking better care of your children. You will return to them energized, revitalized, more patient and able to be more positive and proactive. You will also be modeling for them the importance of self-care. All parents want their kids to grow up to be healthy functioning adults so we need to teach them how to take care of their bodies and minds! The best way you can teach them this is to show them! Modeling a good practice of self-care now, can equip kids with tools they can use later to deal with some of their own stress surrounding the transition to a new school year. 

So what is self-care and what can I do? Self-care includes the simplest tasks such as taking a shower, getting enough sleep and staying hydrated. As a parent it’s often easy to neglect even these tasks. Try and focus on one of these first!

Here are some additional suggestions:

  • Get exercise (go for a walk, join a gym class, do a workout DVD)
  • Spend time outdoors and in natural light
  • Eat regularly and healthy
  • Stay in touch with other people (not just through social media!)
  • Read a book that you love (or enjoy a captivating, new beach read!)
  • Go enjoy a cup of coffee by yourself!
  • Express yourself freely (cry when you are upset!)
  • Say no to extra responsibilities
  • Enjoy a hobby!
  • Goof around a bit! (take in 5 minutes of your day and do something silly!)
  • Take yourself out to dinner
  • Meditate for 3 minutes

By the time the school year rolls around, you will have some extra tools under your belt to help deal with any additional stress.

And for now, enjoy some self-care, sunshine, and extra family time!

Written by Kelly DiBenedetto, LMHC
Boston Post Adoption Resources

About Kelly DiBenedetto, LMHC, ATR

Kelly DiBenedetto, LMHC, ATR is Clinical Director at Boston Post Adoption Resources. To read her bio, please visit BPAR's Team page.