In these moments mental health and self-care may seem like luxuries, but in fact they are critical. Making time to care for your mental and emotional well-being is an investment. It will allow you to keep your cool, help you focus your energy on the things that are really important to you, and ultimately make you a better parent.
One of the most basic steps you can take to set yourself up for success is to start to prioritize. In an ideal world we would have time to cross everything off our to-do lists, but when you’re scrambling to just find a few minutes here and there, it’s nearly impossible. As you begin your day, ask yourself what really needs to get done? What is really important? What can wait? Try not to overcommit yourself, focus on the things you can get done, and let the rest go for now.
It’s also important that your priorities include scheduling a few minutes for self-care – something that helps you refuel. It’s a common misconception that self-care is only about taking a bubble bath or pampering yourself. It’s really much simpler than that. Make time, even if you have only a few bminutes, to do something that improves your day or brings you joy. It can be as simple as taking a shower or making a cup of coffee. Stretch or do some deep breathing exercises. It may seem like a poor use of your time (especially when it feels like there are so many pressing things to do), but remember: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Airlines remind you to put your own mask on before helping others. If you don’t make time to refuel, you won’t be able to function or parent effectively.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be afraid to ask for support or help if you need it. Ask a family member to lend a hand. Call a friend to chat. Needing support doesn’t make you a failure – it makes you human. Lean on your support system. Limit connections that drain you rather than build you up – including social media, which can lead you to compare and despair. Comparison is the thief of joy. Social media is full of parents who seemingly have it all effortlessly and perfectly together. Keep in mind what people tend to share are highlights, and not really representative of the whole. Instead of wasting time focusing on what you’re missing, focus on what you do have. When you’re feeling discouraged or overwhelmed, try taking a deep breath and list five things you’re grateful for. Practicing an ‘attitude of gratitude’ can help you refocus and stay positive.
We all want the best for our children. Parenthood can feel absolutely overwhelming, and the truth is that no one is perfect. Ultimately it comes down to doing your best, learning what to let go of, and what to hold on to. Prioritizing, making time for self-care and your mental health, seeking support when you need it, and choosing gratitude, all will help you perform at your best, and be the best parent you can be.