The importance of parents focusing on their own needs
It is so easy as a parent to get caught up in parenting. We focus on our children adn the myriad of things that come along with that. We are focused on our children throughout the day, school, behaviors, discpline, emotional development, physical development, naps, meals, bedtime, and everything in between. We are pulled in many directions. We need to foster our relationship with our partners, contribute to keeping the home running, and of course manage our own "stuff".
It can be a lot. Sometimes we feel superhuman and like we are mastering all of it. Sometimes we don't feel this way and feel like we are just barely staying afloat. I often talk to parents about self care. Therapists love the analogy of the oxygen mask in a plane. if you ever listen to the emergency protocals while flyng you will hear them say to put the mask on yourself first before helping others. This makes sense. If you pass out due to lack of oxygen you can't help others. This is true about life as well. If you are not taking care of yourself and making sure that you are ok then you can't take good care of others.
As parents we sometimes struggle with this concept. While it makes sense to us it can be hard to put into practice. It can feel like we are being selfish when we are pursuing our own interests or self care. It isn't. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can be healthier more whole people and models for our children.
We have all had times when we are feeling overwhelmed, tired, or stressed. , Maybe we are struggling with our own challenges. During this time we tend to have a harder time dealing with the challeges that come up in terms of our children. We aren't as present, we aren't as patient, and we may be less able to cope. We may be more frustrated, short, or agitated with our children. This is a clear example of needing to find some time for self care. If we are being honest with ourselves, we aren't usually at our best parenting in terms of parenting during this time either.
There are other signs too. Maybe you are feeling isolated because things have been so busy you haven't connected with others in a while. Maybe you have a feeling like you are lving in a fog. Sometimes it presents as a sad or negatve feeling you just can't shake.
Don't ignore these signs. Take a moment to reflect on what you may need and in what ways you may have been neglecting yourself. Make a list of activities you enjoy that fill you up and make a plan to engage in these (even if you don't feel like it). Ask for help, confide in a friend, find support. Making sure you engage in self care regularly is also important. Sometimes we have to make room in our schedule for these things. That is ok too.
Parenting is a job with no time off. We have to pace ourselves. We must recognize that in order to do this job that we are taking care of our own needs. Our children are watching us. As they see us take care of ourselves they will learn to take care of themselves and engage in their own sef care.
Claudia Glassman is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Registered Play Therapist, and Parenting Coach who offers one on one coaching services. Claudia is passionate about helping parents find joy and gain confidence in their parenting abilities. Her vision is to share her knowledge and bring awareness to the importance of the relationship that we have with our children.