Lie #1 You always have to put yourself second. Parents making sacrifices for their children is a given, right? But is it necessary to abandon your personal well-being? Definitely not. In fact, taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for your kids. They depend on you to be present and healthy so you can meet their needs. Yes, even the teenagers! It is imperative that you not lose yourself when you become a parent.
Lie # 2 Taking care of yourself has to be expensive and time consuming. Far-away vacations, spa days, joining a yoga studio or cross-fit gym and “mental health days” away from work are all the rage when it comes to “self-care.” The truth is, not everyone is able to pull these off. The good news: this type of self-care, while trendy and probably enjoyable for those who can do them, is not necessary.
Have you ever had a personal crisis or meltdown? You’re in good company. Usually this happens when we haven’t been taking care of our self.
To protect yourself from unnecessary upset and bad decisions, you need to take care of yourself!
Your life is busy. Getting your kids to school, helping with homework and keeping everyone fed and clothed takes time. I bet the rest of your day is pretty well eaten up when you add in work, other responsibilities and getting a little sleep. How on earth are you supposed to find time to have fun, relax and take care of yourself?
Taking care of yourself can be simple.
One of the most discussed topics in my office is how parents and teens can take better care of themselves. A tool I often use to get my clients started is the “Be Mindful Card Deck for Teens.” These cards, created by Gina Biegel of Stressed Teens, offer fifty ways to slow down and recharge. Even though these were originally written for adolescents, I use them with teens and parents alike. They are simple and can each be completed in only a few minutes.
One of the cards in the deck asks you to brainstorm about actions that “do something positive for you.”
Some of the most popular answers from my clients: naps, painting, drawing, writing, listening to music and watching a funny movie. My favorite activities for relaxation and feeling good are reading and going for a walk. Deep breathing, exercise and even meditation are a few other options.
Now it is your turn. What do you do (for yourself) that makes you feel happy, content, relaxed, safe or calm?
Think of at least five ideas. Then ask yourself, “When was the last time I made time for these activities?”
Really, how long has it been?
Maybe it has only been a few days and that’s great! I suspect that it has been longer than that for many of you. That’s okay. It happens. But let’s make a change.
Pick one of your chosen activities and enter it into your calendar one time in the next week. If you’re feeling ambitious, schedule two in one week. Then go to the next week and schedule in some more “me time” and make it a priority.
When the time comes, do your activity and focus on savoring it. Pay attention to how you feel and relish the time you are giving yourself. Do your best to schedule this time for yourself every week.
It is common for feelings of guilt to creep up while you’re planning and scheduling your activity. They may show up again when you’re doing something for yourself. These are natural and expected at first.
Please don’t judge yourself for these feelings.
Instead, remind yourself: Healthy Parents = Healthy Teens
Go ahead and give this activity a try at home. When you’re done, I’d love to hear about how this worked for you. Feel free to leave a comment below!
Are you interested in purchasing the “Be Mindful Card Deck for Teens” for yourself? Find it here: http://www.stressedteens.com/store/
Bethany Raab is a Denver-based social worker who loves helping teens and their families be happy and healthy!