Parents do everything possible for their children, often at the expense of taking care of themselves. However, to be the best possible parent for your children, you have to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Creating a routine that allows time for your mental health self-care is crucial to yourself and your family.
At Arcara Psychiatry, we believe that a holistic approach is necessary for overall health, and we promote lifestyle routines that take care of the mind and body. It is important for everyone, but parents can often struggle to carve out the time needed. It is easy to feel so overwhelmed with all that is going on in our world/ It is is essential to remember that your children are taking their cues from you. Learn to practice mental self-care and give your children the tools to do the same.
Making the Time for Self-Care
Today’s families are busy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made life more chaotic. As a parent, you may be asking yourself how to find the time to care for yourself and your child’s mental health. Establishing routines that incorporate self-care and sticking with them is the best place to start.
Begin with the basics for both you and your children. Modeling patience and perseverance when establishing self-care routines with your children will help them feel safe, giving a sense of order to their lives. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with basic self-care for your children and yourself, it may be necessary to evaluate your schedule and identify what can go.
Gymnastics for toddlers is a great way to incorporate socializing with physical activity, but if you find yourself hitting a drive-thru and feeling rushed and overwhelmed on those days, you might have to way the rewards and decide if it is something that can go from your schedule. Whatever their age, limit your child’s extracurricular activities to whatever you and your children can manage without feeling overwhelmed.
We know you have heard it so often it almost sounds cliché, but numerous studies show the negative impact of too much screen time on developing minds. It is not only your children at risk, in any case. Too much screen time can affect your sense of calm and diminish your ability to relax and truly take at the moment.
Make an electronic free time in your house. Right before bed is a good time to implement this strategy as it has been shown that spending time in front of a screen interferes with restful sleep. Ban electronics from the table, and make an effort to enjoy meals together. Remember, you are the example for your kids, so checking your screen usage is an excellent place to start.
Create a Sense of Calm in Your Home
Creating a calm home is not something that happens overnight, but it is something you can accomplish in increments. Home should be the place that you, and your children, feel safe, calm, and centered. It is easier to do if space itself promotes a calming feeling. Suggestions to turn your home into something other than chaos central:
- Establish routines for normally chaotic times—if things seem to explode when the kids get home from school, start your routine there. Have them come in, put away their backpacks, and show you any homework or relevant information from school right away. Then it is time for snacks, and whatever feels right for your family. Maybe that is when they get their allotted screen time, or they go outside to play. Whatever it is, don’t expect it to go off perfectly. Be flexible and understand that establishing a new habit takes time.
- Establish one room in your home that is always calm. Whether it is the living room or only your bedroom that is off-limits for rambunctious play, have one place in the house that everyone in the house respects as a quiet zone. Having a reliably calm escape is essential for your mental health, and it is modeling self-care for your children.
- Keep up on household work and involve the kids in contributing. You, and your children, will feel less stress in a tidy home. Perfection is not the goal, but involving them in caring for their home is a process. Have a set time each day when everyone in the house is responsible for contributing their part.
Remember, your children are always watching, and what they see you do has a profound impact on their behavior later in life. If they see you take time out to care for yourself, the odds are high that they will do the same as they get older. Creating a less stressful and more enriching life will benefit your mental health and the mental health of your children.