Elizabeth Elizardi M.Ed., MAPP

Parent Pulse

Mommy Caves and Man Rooms

Taking care of yourself means taking care of your kids

Posted Jun 06, 2011

Mommy caves and man rooms have burgeoned out of a growing need for parents to craft a private space in the house for solitude.    Amidst the demands of time, energy and attention, more and more parents are retreating to a safe haven for a mental, emotional and physical recharge.  Hence, parenting programs such as Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) identify self care as an essential component to being an effective parent.  Reflect on the sage advice of flight attendants as they dutifully instruct us to fasten our own oxygen masks before securing those of our children.  If you are like me, you shudder when you think about not taking care of your children first, but we as parents have something profound to learn from this example.  In order to nourish our own children and give them the very best of us, we first need to nourish ourselves. 

Self care is a subjective experience.  What works for one person may not work for another and people define self-care individualistically. Self care is any activity that is pursued for the purpose of nourishing mind, body and soul, producing momentary positive emotion or meaning and purpose. To better illustrate this definition, self care can exist in tandem with any of the five pillars in Dr. Martin Seligman's theory of Well-Being.

1.      Positive Emotion - Getting a manicure, massage of haircut.

2.      Engagement - Taking part in an intentional activity that uses your top strength in a new way. Pursuing a passion.

3.      Relationships - Having lunch with a friend or talking to a family member on the phone.

4.      Meaning and Purpose - Volunteering, praying, meditating or doing something that demonstrates a belief in something greater than oneself.

5.      Accomplishment - Completing an action step towards a goal or outlining a new goal in your life. 

Whatever activity you choose, let it be one that is about you, not about your kids.   If it nourishes your mind, body, or soul, it is self-care; even if it is five minutes locked in the bathroom, sitting on your child's stool, reading a book or taking deep breaths.  Your physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and psychological state has the greatest influence on your ability to parent effectively.   A commitment to self-care as a parent leads to many positive results, such as increased self awareness or mindfulness, a broadening of outlook or mindset, overall mental conditioning, and most importantly, a parent who is nourished enough to nourish their children.