To meet the physical and emotional needs of caring for children, parents and carers need to remember to take care of themselves.
But as is often the case, by putting others’ needs first, parents and carers can tend to neglect their own needs, leaving little time for themselves.
According to Dr Janet Hall, Clinical Psychologist and parent coach, the great news is that the Super Parent is a myth!
“Parents are busy people”, says Jan, “especially when their children are very young and this is the time when they most need to think carefully about their reactions to the challenges of child-raising.
“Parents are usually under pressure, having to make instant decisions in chaotic conditions. There is no time to read a text book or consult an expert. Parents need time-out for themselves to recharge their batteries. Carers need to regain their sense of humour and equilibrium.”
Jan Hall believes that children need to learn that parents need quality time for themselves that is just theirs.
“Modern day media has promoted a myth that children need quality time. In particular mothers fall over themselves to make sure that everyday, every one of their children gets some special mother time. Why doesn't the same mother make sure she gets the same time for herself?”
There’s no doubt that for all the positives of parenting, it can at times also be an exhausting, frustrating and energy draining business. So as a parent and carer, what is it that you need to help you prepare for and cope with the everyday challenges of managing a family unit and caring for children?
Including yourself on the list of people you care for means you’re more likely to be more positive, giving, calm and resilient. And, a positive frame of mind can help you maintain equilibrium both on the home front and at work.
Taking a break from day to day care giving doesn’t have to mean a weekend away or childcare that you can’t afford. Giving yourself permission to ignore the dishes and read the paper instead, asking a partner or friend to mind the kids while you relax for half an hour in a bath, or indulging in a DVD, can be effective ways to help recharge the batteries.
Try some of these suggestions:
Try starting each day with a reality check on how you feel, what you need, one thing you hope to accomplish for the day, and plan for 10 minutes ‘me’ time.
If you need five minutes with your feet up, take it and make the most of it. Exercise is great for reducing stress and muscle tension, so if a walk on your own is out of the question, consider taking the kids to the park and doing some stretches and skipping while they play on the equipment.
Being a parent and carer makes you a very important person. If you plan for time out every day, it’s more likely to happen. And if you’ve had some time out to feel rested and more relaxed, you’re more likely to feel attractive, competent and unhurried.