Maria has a massive to-do list that only seems to get longer. She often feels frazzled, and finds herself yelling at family members for reasons that seem unimportant in retrospect. Maria’s friend, Sophie, also feels stretched way beyond comfort. She is tired, annoyed and resentful. John often feels overwhelmed. When not at work, he seems to be on a treadmill of running his kids to sports practices and birthday parties, cleaning the house and maintaining the yard.
Why we neglect ourselves and why we shouldn’t
Maria, Sophie and John all feel depleted. They share something else in common. None of them is taking the time to do something for themselves on a regular basis. Maria thinks she doesn’t have time to go out with treasured friends. Sophie thinks that once her children are all in school full day, then she will have time to go to the gym. John thinks that it would be selfish for him to play tennis as he used to before he had children. These parents think that doing things to bring them joy is not as important as the other work of their lives.
Taking care of yourself, especially if you are a parent, is critical. Building in time for yourself can make you feel more centered and less prone to anger. Good self-care helps you be creative in your responses to your children. By taking care of yourself, you send a message to the world that you matter, and that can lead to a sense of respect. You also provide a powerful example to your children. Most parents agree that parenting is the most challenging job they have ever had. Parents learn that it is a marathon – not a sprint. Parents can burn out by the time their children are teens, which is a critical time for parents to be feeling their best. Good self-care in your earlier years of parenting can help prepare you for those later years.
Check back next week for specific ideas on self-care. Hint: Self-care goes beyond manicures, pedicures, and massages!
In the meantime, if life with kids has you feeling frazzled, stretched, annoyed, or resentful, consider the ultimate in self-care this winter, a PEP parenting class. Our in-person classes start soon and it’s not too late to join our online January master class, Encouragement! Building Your Child’s Confidence From the Inside Out.
Maureen McElroy is a certified parent educator with the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP), a longtime leader at PEP, and a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. This article was excerpted from an article that appeared in Washington Parent Magazine’s December 2018 issue. Read the full article here.