Self-care For Busy Parents

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to commit to a morning routine. How you start your day directly influences how the rest of your day goes. Start with a nourishing routine and see how grounded you are for the rest of the day. Start your day by pushing your snooze button until the last minute and then running around frazzled all morning and see how that day pans out. Get my drift?

A few days ago I read a post on my mentor’s Facebook group feed from a lovely lady who was trying her very best to nail down an uplifting morning routine. Her obstacle was, as it is for many of us, an early waking child. She was unable to get into a routine because her child would wake at 5:30 am. Kids, God love them, have a sixth sense about these sort of things. All you want is five minutes alone to meditate or do a sun salutation and there they are demanding breakfast. What is the solution? Get up even earlier? Give the kid an iPad and tell him to be quiet for half an hour? Take a no prisoners approach and get the morning routine done no matter what, even in the face of a bawling kid?

Life happens, let’s face it. Many of the self-care practices we “should” do every day take a certain amount of alone time. When you’re a working parent you don’t get a lot of that, at least not on your schedule. This means you have to make adjustments to your schedule.

You have to make time wherever you can find it. I have a 5-year-old who loves to spend time with me. She goes to school now, which frees up a lot of time, hence my new business and several times a week blog, but this wasn’t always the case. She was little and constantly underfoot once, too. Did I put her needs off to focus on my own? No. I adjusted my schedule to work with hers. I didn’t do as much when she was little. I pared my schedule back to the bare minimum self-care practices that give me the most bang for my buck. These are practices that don’t take much time but provide a big impact.

Here’s exactly what I did:

Sleep when the baby sleeps

This is hands down the best self-preservation advice a new parent can get. Don’t clean house, don’t make phone calls, don’t do anything but catch up on your z’s. This is your number one self-care priority in the early days. If you do this one thing, you are winning.

Sleep is the most underrated commodity in modern times. No one feels positive and worthy if they are lacking sleep. I know I feel frazzled and emotional when I’m tired. I feel like I can’t do anything right, and probably can’t to be honest. We make bad decisions when we are sleep deprived. For more on the importance of sleep, see this week’s edition of Nourish Me Wellness: The Blog which publishes on Thursday.

Go easy on yourself

A working parent has to use the early morning hours and evening hours after bedtime–maybe lunchtime if you’re lucky–to squeeze in some self-care time. However, if your kid goes to extreme measures to ensure she is spending every waking hour with you, getting up early for a traditional relaxing morning routine is not going to work.

Maybe an extensive morning routine isn’t in the cards right now. Afterall, the point of a morning routine is to start the day off in a positive, stress-free manner. It shouldn’t be the cause of your stress. Maybe your self-care is primarily something that happens in the evening after the kids are in bed. Instead of zoning out in front of the television or scrolling through Facebook, maybe you take an Epsom salt bath, read, or journal.

Who says your routine has to look like everyone else’s? Give yourself a break and work with your obstacles, not against them. If your kid gets up early, anticipate this and start your morning routine before you even get out of bed. I still do this. As soon as I open my eyes, or even before, I do my gratitude practice for the day. I think of what I am grateful for and let that feeling wash over me for a bit. Then I do some simple stretches before sitting up and swinging my feet out of bed.

When your kid gets up early, work that into your routine. Sit and have a book together. Have breakfast together. Share your gratitude with each other. Make sure she appreciates the quiet rhythms of the morning. In the evening, share your wins for the day. Our kids aren’t just annoyances to get around, they are little people who are learning about the world by watching us. Including them in our fulfilling morning routine sets them up for having a good day as well.

Whatever you do, do it with love

As long as you act out of love you really can do no wrong. This is one of the best pieces of parenting advice I got. It isn’t only good for parenting, it also applies to how you treat yourself.

There is never enough time. If you don’t find time for yourself today, you for sure won’t be able to find it tomorrow. Here’s why: If your well being is not a priority for you, it won’t be a priority for others either. When others believe you are a doormat without needs or desires of your own, you will find less and less time for yourself and will believe you don’t deserve the time you have.

If you are operating from a place of disgruntled frustration, how does that serve everyone else? Yes, you might be going through the motions and performing your parenting duties well enough to avoid a call from Child Protection Services, but is anyone really thriving?

When women take good care of themselves, everyone benefits. Kids know when you are feeling good or bad. They use your attitude about life and how you care for yourself and others as a model for how they should feel about themselves and the place they can expect to take up in the world. If you are constantly running on empty just to keep up, what kind of a message does that send those little people?

Don’t make self-care a chore

Finally, the whole point of self-care is to nourish positivity and a sense of peace in yourself. It is meant to fill you up so you can give more to others. It shouldn’t be yet another thing to do that adds stress to your life. If you are finding that your morning routine is adding to your daily stress, maybe you are trying to do too much. Give it a rest. Maybe pare it down to one practice, such as a daily gratitude. Maybe your gratitude practice takes place in the shower or in the car on the way to work. Some mornings are like that for me. It’s ok. Do the best you can do with what you have. It is enough.

If you find this useful, there’s a good chance your friends will, too. Share this with your friends right away while you are thinking of it. Thanks for reading!

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