Let’s face it—if you have kids, you’ve probably been there: unshowered, unable to communicate with other adults, and ready to sleep standing up. It happens, regardless of whether you go to work every day or function as the stay-at-home parent. No matter how much you love your kids and enjoy spending time with them, you will battle profound burnout. There will be moments, days, or weeks when you don’t think you can find the strength to wipe another nose or take another call from the PTA president.
Making time for your own needs, even in small doses, can help alleviate and redirect stress—making everyone a lot happier. You’ll also be setting an example for your family that self-care is important. Try incorporating one or two of the below ideas into your daily routine to get yourself motivated and back on track.
- Exercise – You don’t need to schedule a comprehensive workout to feel the mental benefits of exercise. A brisk walk with the stroller, simple stretches, or fifteen minutes of yoga can help you refocus (and sleep better at night). Exercise can also alleviate anxiety, ward off depression, and boost your mood.
- Ask for Help – Swallow your pride and ask for help; don’t wait until you’re ready to pull your hair out. Your friends and family might be willing to take the kids for an hour, run errands, or cook dinner. Understand that your friends, family, and spouse are not mind readers. You can’t expect them to intuit your needs unless you make them explicitly clear. When you ask for help with a specific task, you’ll often find people who are happy to help.
- Enforce Nap/Quiet Time – Even if your kids are too old for naps, insist on daily quiet time with soft music, puzzles, or books. Set a timer to help enforce this rule. Setting quiet time not only gives you an hour to check e-mails or tackle small chores, but also provides a great reset for your kids—they need downtime, too. Lavender Essential Oils can also help a restless little one settle down for quiet time.
- 5 Minute Time Outs – When the kids are arguing, playing loudly, or just being ridiculous, take a time out. Make sure everyone is safe, explain that you need a quick break, and then remove yourself from the situation.
- Trade Babysitting – Form a group of local stay-at-home parents, and rotate babysitting responsibilities. Trade emergency contact information and confirm dates and times to ensure that you’re covered. The best part about trading off is that there’s no money involved—everyone wins.
- Pamper Yourself – If you have the time and the money to indulge in a day spa visit, go for it! Otherwise, take the time to give yourself a fresh coat of nail polish, luxuriate in a hot bath, soak your tired feet, or sip hot cocoa with a good book. Do something that makes you feel amazing.
- Keep Up With Hobbies – Giving your all to your family doesn’t mean you have to give up your passions. Carve out time to paint, scrapbook, run, bake, game, or knit—whatever brings you joy. You may even be able to find local classes that give you the opportunity to further your skills or socialize with others.
- Rest Up –Sleep is crucial to your wellbeing. Unless you have new baby that isn’t sleeping through the night, make it a priority to get a solid night’s sleep—even if that means letting dishes stay in the sink until morning.
- Say “No” – Do you have too much on your plate? You don’t need to bake five-dozen cookies for the school’s bake sale, sew ten costumes for your son’s play, or join every committee you’re asked to participate in. Prioritize the extra activities in your life so that you can still pitch in without your added responsibilities negatively affecting your family.
- Let It Go – Sometimes you just need to take one item off of your to-do list. Allow yourself to ignore a non-essential chore or responsibility and endeavor to start over tomorrow. Grab some takeout, too.