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The Importance of Self-Care for Parents

By taking care of yourself, you have more to give others.

Key points

  • Self-care can help replenish a parent's energy, focus, and positivity.
  • Children are unaware of the need for balance, so parents must set boundaries themselves.
  • People often view boundary setting as selfish, but it can help parents have more energy for themselves and their children.

When I was training to become a therapist, my supervisors emphasized the concept of self-care. The idea is that in order to be at our best, we have to make sure we take care of ourselves as well as others. After all, if we as therapists become overwhelmed, we can’t be as effective with our clients.

The same is true for parents. Raising children is a full-time job. They are constantly wanting our time, making demands, and almost solely caring about their own needs. As a result, if we let the children rule our households, we will be constantly at their beck and call. This can lead to a household where we become emotionally overwhelmed by doing everything we can to take care of their needs and sacrificing our own.

We all have a need for balance in our lives and the ability to take time for ourselves. Whether it’s mindless binge-watching, enjoying some gourmet bakery items or just quieting our mind and listening to music, we all need to have our downtime. Unfortunately, children are not aware of this and often think our job is to always be at their beck and call. That is why it is so important that we recognize our own needs and make sure they’re met.

The next time you’re being run ragged by your child’s schedule, whether it’s soccer practice, school outings, driving them to friends’ houses, or whatever, remember that you matter, too. You are important in this equation as well and deserve to take care of yourself as well as your children. You do not have to be on call 24 hours a day to do everything your child wants. For emergencies, yes, you are always available, however not for every desire your child has at every moment. You can establish limits on your time and the number of hours you’re going to be available for their activities.

Often people think it’s selfish to take time for themselves. That is a mindset that causes people to continually give to others until they’ve given all they have and have no more to give. This is when people become resentful or bitter and can lose their joy of parenting. When all you do is give, give, give, you don’t have a chance to recharge your own batteries and this can lead to becoming run down. Children often think it’s all about them. They are not developmentally capable of understanding the limits of your energy and focus. They think you have an unlimited supply.

That is why it is incumbent on parents to draw boundaries with their kids so they make sure their needs are also met. You can make choices about what time you will spend taking part in your child’s activities and what time you need for yourself.

It is not selfish to put limits on the things your child requests of you. You have a right to have a life, too. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. It is a necessity. The good news is, the more time you spend taking care of yourself and recharging your own batteries, the more positive energy you will have to give to your child. Finding a balance between your own needs and your child’s needs is something every parent deserves to discover. It becomes a win-win situation; positive for the parents and positive for the child.

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