Parenting is not an easy task, particularly when you are the parent of a young child. Almost every waking second is consumed by your child’s needs. Private potty time has become a thing of the past. You see fingers wiggling under the door, or perhaps your child demands to be in the bathroom with you. A hot meal has also become a distant memory. You feel the need to feed your screaming, cranky toddler before you ever take your first bite.
The problem is, parents must realize that it is just as important to nurture themselves as it is for them to nurture their child. Failure to nurture yourself can eventually lead to emotional distress and anxiety. While it may feel that you don’t have a single moment to yourself, there are ways you can self-nurture while also nurturing your child.
Importance of Self-Nurturing
Self-nurturing yourself is more important than you may realize. You must take care of yourself so you can successfully take care of your child. One way to better explain this is to compare it to flying on a plane. When you board a plane, a stewardess guides you through all the standard safety procedures. One of the instructions is to place your oxygen mask on yourself before placing one on your child.
Of course, your instinct is to protect and nurture, which you should do. However, you are no good to your child if you are no good to yourself. You must be physically healthy and mentally sound to provide care for your child. You cannot find it in yourself to be nurturing to your child if you cannot even nurture your own needs.
Self-nurturing allows you to breathe a little easier and enjoy more of life’s moments. It keeps you from feeling like a neurotic mess over spilled milk. Instead, you can respond to situations with a sense of calm strength. In return, your child can relax and respond to you with more cooperation. When you are stressed, your child feels that stress and the situation becomes a mess. Fortunately, finding time for yourself can help ease the burden of anxiety and stress.
Tips for Self-Nurturing
At this point, you might be laughing at the idea of taking care of yourself. Half the time you feel like you can barely keep up with your child, let alone yourself. Just remember that while it may seem impossible, everything is possible. All it takes is making simple changes to your attitude, to yourself, and to the things you do. The following are just some ways you can self-nurture yourself:
- Pay Attention to Your Mind, Body, and Soul: Make it a point to pay conscious attention to how you are feeling throughout the day. Tuning into your mind, body, and soul can make a world of difference. Force yourself to breathe deeply, enjoy a favorite tune, or simply take a few moments to enjoy some fresh air by taking your child on a walk.
- Do Not Be Afraid to Take a Step Back: Being a good parent doesn’t mean you must be supermom or superdad. All parents need a break from time-to-time. If you start to feel irritable, take a step back and let your mind relax. If need be, secure your child using a playpen or gated area while you step outside for a breath of fresh air to calm down and self-nurture yourself.
- Ask for Help When Necessary: Make sure you have a strong support group to help you out. Offer to exchange babysitting with friends or family members who also have children so you can enjoy a night out to yourself. Never feel ashamed about taking some time out for you. Sometimes you need to reset yourself so you can give your all to your child.
- Be Your Own Parent: While it may sound silly, you are an adult, which means you need to play the role of your own parent. No matter how crazy the idea might sound, stand in front of the mirror and parent yourself in a nurturing and loving tone. Tell yourself that it will be okay. Loving yourself is the best way for you to love your child.
- Pick and Choose Your Battles: Young children, especially toddlers, can challenge your patience and test their limitations with you. The best way to nurture yourself is to not battle your child every step of the way. Pick and choose your battles wisely. If you spend less time fretting over the opposition of your child, you can spend more time focusing on being a better you so that you can be a better parent for your child.
Sometimes when a person fails to take care of their own needs, it can lead to depression and anxiety. If you feel overwhelmed with your parenting duties, do not be ashamed. You are not alone in feeling the way you do. Many parents suffer the same feelings. Fortunately, therapy can assist you in overcoming those feelings. Furthermore, therapy can provide other ways in which you can self-nurture and get back on the right track to a better you.
Monica Ramunda is a solution-focused online therapist with an office located in Louisville, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).