Preventing the Burn! Part 2: 6 Ways Empowered Parents Practice Self-Care
The more burnt out you are, the less effective as a parent you will be. Empowered Parents learn what their limits are and take proactive steps to keep from getting there. This means including self-care in the daily routine to help recharge the battery rather than having it drain to dangerous levels.
In Part One, we looked at three reasons why it is important to make self-care part of your daily routine. It helps keep you at the top of your game as a parent and makes life a little easier to manage. However, knowing the why is only half of the equation. We’ve got to know the how if we want to make a change!
That’s what we will cover in this post. You are going to get six different tools that give you the how of a daily self-care routine. You might find that you have more tools already than you realized and that some of this is going to be a mindset shift as a parent. That’s not always an easy thing to do, but that doesn’t mean it is the wrong thing to do either!
Adding self-care into your daily routine if you have not done it before can feel uncomfortable. You might feel guilty for focusing on yourself, worried about how to fit it all in, and stressed to do it right. The more it becomes part of your routine, the more you will see how much it positively affects the rest of your life. You will be parenting at a new level and seizing the day!
Empowered Parents know that they have limitations and need to do something to keep themselves running. There is nothing selfish in taking time for yourself as long as it is balanced within the context of your other responsibilities. To help get you started on adding self-care into your daily routine, here are six powerful practices!
Self-Care Practice #1: Assessing Your Responsibilities
The burnout comes when we are overwhelmed with our responsibilities and just can’t hold onto all of them anymore. It’s like spinning plates on top of sticks; the more you add, the harder it is to keep every one of them up. Here’s the tricky thing, though. The more overwhelmed you feel, the more your responsibilities become one big blur. It’s hard to know what is what and which is a priority.
As parents, there are also times we take on responsibilities that we do not need to because it needs to stick with our children. Sometimes we pick up their clothes, get them dressed, take the garbage out, brush their teeth, and other tasks like this because it is easier for us to do them. Unfortunately, this adds to our burdens while taking away valuable learning opportunities. If you continue to do this, you will create a child that depends on others while burning yourself out.
Take some time to list out all the responsibilities you have, no matter how small or large. Which ones on this list are top priority? By doing this, you are attempting to make the large blur clearer so you can see exactly what you have to deal with. Also, make sure to list any responsibilities you are taking on that others can, and should, be doing. Give up the tasks you don’t need to be doing and that someone else in the home can do. You don’t need to be superhuman and get it all done. Share the load!
Self-Care Practice #2: Give Yourself Permission to be a Priority
One of the first steps to making self-care part of your daily routine is to give yourself permission to be a priority. With all your different roles and responsibilities, it is easy to forget yourself in there. After you have gone through your different responsibilities and given up some of the ones that can be given to others, it’s time to add yourself to the responsibility list.
Unfortunately, for a lot of parents, when we start to take care of ourselves, we begin to feel guilty. We start thinking we should be giving that time to others and that we are selfish for not doing so. This is why giving yourself permission is one of your self-care practices. Without taking care of yourself, you will not be able to do what you need to do. Giving yourself permission lets you know it’s okay to be a top priority at times to recharge your batteries. We’re talking a few minutes here and there, not hours upon hours. A bonus tip, if you parent with a partner, help give each other permission to make yourselves a priority!
Self-Care Practice #3: Have Realistic Expectations and Self-Compassion
One of the reasons the responsibilities of life, and especially parenting, become overwhelming is having unrealistic expectations of what you should be doing as a parent. Empowered Parents are aware of the goals they have for themselves as parents and the expectations this puts on them. What are you expecting for yourself as a parent? Do you need to do everything perfectly? Is there room to be human?
We are going to make mistakes as parents. There will be times we raise our voices more than we wanted to or cut our child off instead of listening. Have some self-compassion and know that this happens because you are human and not some super-being from Krypton. Make sure your expectations are realistic, so the stress of reaching the impossible doesn’t burn you out. For the times you don’t reach the level you wanted, recognize your human and learn from the moment to know what to do differently next time. Guilting and shaming yourself will only burn you out more!
Realistic expectations aren't just important to look at for yourself, they impact your child. If you find you have a lot of power struggles with your child, one reason may be unrealistic expectations of them. Learn about realistic expectations and other tools for reducing power struggles in the From Power Struggles to Empowered Connection Online Parenting Course!
Self-Care Practice #4: Exercise and Eat Healthy
Stress and emotional exhaustion take their toll on us physically. It releases hormones in our body that make you feel sluggish, messes with your appetite, throws off your sleep, and can make you eat too much or too little. One of the best ways to combat the effects of stress is to exercise regularly and eat well.
It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you do as long as you get your heart rate up a little bit and reach out of your body’s comfort zone. Eating healthy gives you the fuel you need to knock out your responsibilities and get done what is required. Get out for a walk, run a little bit, hop on a bicycle, lift some weights, eat extra fruits and veggies, cut out sugars, and watch and feel the differences in your life!
Self-Care Practice #5: Grow in your Personal Development
Being a parent is a fantastic role in life; however, it is not the only thing that makes you, well, you. If you neglect your personal development, you will feel there are things in life missing and you will start to burnout. If you are not doing anything to help yourself grow on an individual level, you will not grow into the parent you want to be.
Empowered Parents continually grow on a personal level to help reach higher levels in their life’s journey. Your goals and hopes should not center around just parenting and your children. There is a lot more adventure out there, take the time to work on personal goals you’ve had around your growth. If you are not sure where to start, check out our blog post on Your Personal Revolution!
Self-Care Practice #6: Draw on Your Support Network
The more we feel overwhelmed with our parenting responsibilities, the more we might guilt and shame ourselves. As we start to do this, we withdraw from others around us and try harder and harder to reach the impossible expectations with less and less enthusiasm and hope. Withdrawing from our support is one of the worst things we can do in this situation. We start to think we are the only parent that feels this way, and we feel disconnected from other parts of our lives.
The truth is, many parents feel the burnout, not just you. Also, humans were not meant to be islands. The more we withdraw from our social support, the more we can start to feel depressed and overwhelmed. In essence, pulling away from our support network will only create more of what we do not want.
Connect with the people in your life that recharge your battery. You can let them know about your struggles in life, and most will not mind as long as that is not the only thing you talk about (which if it is all you talk about, definitely a sign you are burnt out!). Connect with your support network for those boosts of positivity and hope. This can be as simple as a few text messages, meeting up for a few minutes to talk, or getting some food together.
Getting burned out is a common experience in parenting; however, that does not mean we have to cave into it or just wait for it to happen. Empowered Parents do what is necessary to add self-care into their daily routine to keep their batteries charged. No one else is going to take care of you, that is your responsibility!