Summer is the time of year many of us look forward to. From summer camps and sports tournaments to long bike rides and playdates, kids seem to be busier than ever. But what about you? What are YOU doing this summer (and coordinating calendars doesn’t count!!)? While raising kids can be rewarding and wonderful, it can also start to consume your life. Consider this blog your parental PSA on self-care and how it can make you a better parent.
It’s Not Just During the Summer
As a parent, you are the general of your household. You make sure there is food (and that it is prepped!) on the table. That the clothes are clean and everyone and everything is where they need to be. Like a general, you’re also responsible for the morale of your child-size-troops. Meaning if you aren’t taking care of yourself, your kids are going to suffer too. We’re going to say it multiple times this blog, but SELF-CARE ISN’T SELFISH. And it’s actually one of the best things you can do for your kids. Taking a break from family can cause guilt and anxiety in mothers and fathers alike. But a few hours away can re-energize you so you can get back to playing with Legos, making dinner and taking care of whatever else is on your to-do list.
What Does Self-Care Look Like?
Self-care looks different for every individual. But as a general guideline, think about the things that restore your energy. Maybe for you, it’s a shopping day (in which you only shop for yourself). Or maybe it’s a good workout or reading a book in a coffee shop. If you’re looking for inspiration, think back to the things you used to do before you had kids. You know, when you had free time…
What Self-Care Doesn’t Look Like
Self-care is not running errands or catching up on Dr.’s appointments. It’s not a day devoted to getting the laundry caught up or doing other household chores. The call to the plumber can wait another day. Order in tonight if you’re out of food. This time is about you, you can attend to your household later.
What You Can Do?
Self-Care Tip One. Do What You Love
As we mentioned above, the best way to practice self-care is by doing the things you love. If you can find a mixture of activities that leave you feeling balanced and happy, you’ll always have a charged battery to deal with whatever mess the kids get into next. Go out one night a week, start a yoga practice, prioritize time with your friends. We’re sure you can find something that brings a smile to your face!
Two. Actually Keep Time for Yourself
Any self-care you can get is always good. But doing it every once in awhile, won’t recharge you as often as you actually need it. And if you can turn it into a habit, that’s even better! This is the one thing we will let you schedule out in this blog. Carve out “dates” with people who either recharge you with their energy or do activities that do the same. Maybe you try trading “shifts” with your partner in order to go on a long run a few times a week. Or you start attending a club of sorts with weekly meetings or monthly to keep you accountable (while doing something you actually like doing.) Even a subscription box or subscription tickets to an event you like could be just what you need.
Three. Build a Support Network
Surround yourself with people you can rely on to either help ensure your self-care doesn’t get put on the back burner or that can step in to take over when you can’t. If you have a partner, don’t feel guilty about asking them to help a little extra. Not to mention, one on one time with both parents allows for stronger relationships and bonding with the kids. It’s a win-win.
Four. Say No
Let’s try it shall we. Repeat after us:
Did you say it? Seriously, do it. Feels good, huh? Try doing it in real life sometimes and you’ll really feel some relief. You don’t have to volunteer extra hours at the concession stand during a tournament weekend. You don’t have to join another committee or board. Say no to things you aren’t required to do every once in a while. Notice if that alone makes a difference. Saying no won’t necessarily make you a better parent, but it will keep your cup full.
Five. Start Small
You don’t have to take an entire weekend off to practice self-care. But even the busiest of moms can squeeze in some time for self-care. Even just five minutes of mindful breathing is enough. You could stretch. Meditate. Try to find small pockets of time for yourself throughout your day – 5 minutes should be a reasonable time to try.
Counseling for Better Parenting Could Be a Good Option Too!
Counseling can be a helpful tool to help you make mindfulness techniques and self-care a part of your daily life. Sharing your summer stressors with your therapist can help you both stay on the same page and keep you accountable in working towards your goals. If you’re worried you need to be a better parent, therapy and counseling are safe spaces where you can voice your concerns, develop coping and communication skills, and find the support you need.
Remember, therapy is hard work! It can feel extremely uncomfortable and even exhausting. Having a hand to hold and help guide you will only add to your personal success. Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and one in the Robinson area. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you stress less this summer!
Marissa Betancourt has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. After her studies at Chatham University, she became a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor as well as a Licensed Professional Counselor. She has approximately 5 years of experience working with the dually diagnosed population. She works with people who experience depression, anxiety, mood disorders, personality disorders, and substance use. Marissa uses a mix of motivational interviewing, behavioral therapy, CBT, psycho-education, and gestalt therapy to assist clients with working towards their goals. She is transparent and assertive in the counseling process, helping clients gain insight into past and current behavior. Marissa looks forward to helping you understand your symptoms and working through them at your own pace!