A few weeks ago, Lisa Smith, an In Home Family and Teen Coach with Save My Family Today, shared some tips on how to ease back to school anxiety. We loved her advice and just had to ask, “what about us?” Here’s what she had to say about how parents can take care of themselves, and why it’s important!
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You know those safety instructions they give on a plane… the ones which include reminding parents to take oxygen first in the event of an emergency before they give oxygen to their children. It’s a perfect analogy! A parent who lacks enough oxygen can’t possibly be in the best possible position to take good enough care of their kids. As we all know, many parents feel guilty taking care of themselves and feel that every drop of their energy should be poured into taking care of their children’s needs. This is a lie that you need to shed if you want to be healthy, have emotionally healthy kids and healthy relationships with them. And don’t forget… your kids are watching how you take care of yourself and will likely follow in your steps. Here’s how to be a great parent while still taking great care of yourself:
1. Take care of your physical self. Get enough sleep! There’s not much worse than a chronically exhausted parent. Eat healthy. Take walks alone to clear your mind, exercise, do yoga anything to get your blood flowing and your body in good condition. This builds emotional and physical stamina which you obviously need when raising children.
2. Take care of your emotional self. Go out without your kids! And when you’re out don’t talk about your kids and don’t take calls or texts from your kids during this time. Focus on other important relationships with extended family and friends. Write in a journal. Step away from your phone and other screens every day.
3. Fill your emotional tank. Do something you love! Aside from your all important children… what makes you laugh? What feels fun? What brings you peace? What brings you joy? What makes you feel good about yourself? Do those things at least once or twice a week!
4. Stop making your kids problem your problem, his roller coaster your roller coaster, his life your life. Go get your own. Ouch… did that hurt to hear? If it did then maybe you are too close to your kids. Yep… I said it. As parents, you want to and feel as though you should be so involved in their every drama, every relationship, every emotion, every event. This is not the case. Yes, you need to have a good grasp on who their friends are, what they are up to and how they are doing but you don’t have to live it yourself. Be aware of what’s going on, don’t take it on as your own.
As your kids grow, you need to give them opportunities to experience life and the room to problem solve and cope with hardship, disappointment and sadness. Disconnect yourself and you will be healthier, happier and much less tired and they will have a chance to grow. Trust that you have taught them well then allow them to practice the skills you’ve given them. They will feel good about themselves and you will feel less stressed. If there’s a crisis, that may be different. But for the every day scenarios… step away. It’s counter-intuitive, I know. But you will all be better for it. I promise.