Raising children is one of the most rewarding, wonderful, and thrilling experiences in life. It’s also one of the most exhausting, tiring, challenging, anxiety-provoking, energy-draining processes one might endure. Whether you work outside of the home, are a stay at home parent, work part-time, etc., finding a sense of balance is hard and, unfortunately, self-care is often the first thing to go when we are overwhelmed.
Between trying to get your kids to school and all of their activities, feeding them something reasonably healthy, and ensuring that they develop a good self-esteem and have positive friendships, it can feel that there is just no time left for anything else. Add managing a career and taking care of a pet or two to the mix and you might just feel like making yourself a priority is not in the cards. However, in order to raise emotionally healthy children, we need to set an example by caring for ourselves.
Taking care of yourself is something that requires setting an intention. Take a look at your calendar and notice what you have scheduled. Perhaps you have various appointments for your kids on the schedule, play dates noted, a visit to the Veterinarian planned for your dog, and even an oil change set for your car. What do you have planned for yourself?
Lack of balance and self-care can easily lead to a host of stress-related symptoms: anxiety, depression, sleep struggles, anger, irritability, racing thoughts, increased illnesses, or struggles in our relationships. It can also decrease our ability to effectively parent our children. In order to prevent or reduce these issues, scheduling time for ourselves is crucial.
Creating balance does not require a grand plan. In fact, keeping things simple is a much more achievable path to wellness. Think about what you enjoy. If you prefer something like yoga, search for yoga classes and put a class on your calendar. Consider that a commitment in your schedule. What other things do you need to add to your calendar for yourself that need to be considered commitments? Whether it’s getting a massage, attending a religious service, having dinner with a friend, joining a book club, going for a run, or walking your dog, schedule those things as commitments. Make yourself and the activities that bring you joy, happiness, and relaxation a priority.
If you find that creating balance feels out of reach and/or you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability, exhaustion, anger, insomnia, etc., make an appointment to meet with a therapist. At Dunham Counseling, our therapists are ready to help you on your journey to balancing parenting and self-care.
Erin Cluts, LCSW
Associate, Dunham Counseling