Self-Care Acts for Parents That Can Be Done At Home
Fact-checked by Hehe Stewart, Doula and birthing expert.
What a cringy word for some folks - and a reason for the deepest eye roll for others. Self-care has gotten such a bad rap in the last few years, and with the recent COVID-19 outbreak it seems nearly impossible to achieve. Everything in your life is upside down. We are weeks into this quarantine lifestyle and things don’t seem to be getting any easier.
It can be so easy to lose yourself in the chaos. However, now is the time that your mental health matters the most. Your family is depending on you in this time of uncertainty. One thing you can control is the way you restore yourself so you can continue to show up everyday for your loved ones.
Here are some simple ideas to achieve a little self-care at home.
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If there were ever a time to use that old notebook in your bedside drawer, now is it. There is so much going on in our world and there is so much misinformation that our brains are in overload. A nice brain-dump in the morning or in the evening may be just what the doctor ordered...no pun intended.
Give yourself the time you deserve to get it all out and onto paper. This act of writing it all out can be so therapeutic. If brain-dumps aren’t your thing, you can try journaling the things you are grateful for each day!
We all know that yoga is good for us--our minds, our bodies, and our spiritual selves. The opportunities to attend an online yoga class is plentiful. There are free classes, private classes, and public classes with thousands of other yogis. You can find a virtual class to any liking at all.
This is a great way to prioritize 20-minutes of me-time. If ‘me-time’ seems insane right about now as you try to plot how you’ll squeeze that Warrior II pose in your day, you might consider family yoga. Try tuning into a class that everyone in the family can enjoy. Sometimes movement is the answer and the more you can do together, the better.
Go For a Walk
Get outside! No matter the weather, you should always make a point to get outside, even if just for a few minutes. The fresh air will do your lungs some good (don’t we all need that with the recent coronavirus outbreak). With our nation on a strong stay-at-home advisory, getting outdoors may be the only change in scenery you get. The inside of your home can start to feel small and claustrophobic at some point. This is always a tell-tale sign to get outside and take a breather...literally.
A parent favorite! This is totally a self-care act made by parents of toddlers. This is a one-hour (or whatever time feels aligned with your family goals) chunk of the day that every child must occupy themselves. This may mean playing independently and quietly (Matchbox cars or figurines, but no “active play” that requires body movement), reading books, or taking a nap. This also may be the time that you Hail Mary that screen time you’ve been holding out on. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries around the noise level in your home and activities your kids have access to throughout the day.
This is a great stress reliever and you get to have yummy treats at the end. This is also an activity that you can include your children in as well. Cooking is a great way to introduce children to math and science.
Cookies, brownies, and fruit salads are all hits amongst the younger crowd because they all have lots of stirring and dumping (which is perfect for tiny hands) in the recipe. Plus, anytime you’re in the kitchen with your little one is a great time to practice hand washing skills--we know how important those are these days!
It’s hard to remember that this is temporary, but it is. Taking a deep breath not only feels good, but it also has positive impacts on the human body physically such as lowering blood pressure. Slow breathing and meditation is used to decrease anxiety by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. Many mindfulness teachers will share anecdotal evidence and stories that deep breathing exercises can boost your immune system, but the skeptics are in abundance. While this topic has long been debated, this study seems to support this claim!
Get Fancy with FaceTime
Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Luckily, this pandemic has happened in the year 2020 in which we have the most technological advances that can connect us to the moon - literally to the moon if we wanted.
Take this unexpected down time to reconnect with old friends, family members you’ve been meaning to catch up with or join an online moms group! Being social looks a little different than it did a few weeks ago, but your happy hour with other moms at swim lessons don’t have to end. Simply switch it to a fancy FaceTime mom date!
Say Goodbye to Perfection
This may be the most beneficial thing you do for yourself throughout this entire time. Remember, this is not the time to be striving for perfection. Rather, this is the time to find grace for yourself. Your children are home. Your spouse is home. Your schedule is uprooted and your daily activities are cancelled.
It’s okay to let the kids have screen time. It’s okay to only get dressed from the waist up for the video calls. It’s okay to let your child’s “school day” end at 1:30pm. You’re allowed to have bad days and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. Good moms have bad days and pandemic moms have loosened standards.
This is an adjustment for everyone involved, you included. As much as your children are having to change their schedules, you are too and you deserve the time and space it takes to cope with this life stressor. You are not alone in this journey. Every other parent on Earth right now is walking a very similar path as you. It’s not the greatest of circumstances, but it is comforting to know you are not alone.
Prioritizing yourself for at least 20-minutes a day can be the difference between a 2007-Brittany-style-meltdown and a Kate-Middleton-fresh-from-birth-type exit from this pandemic. When the dust settles and the rest of the moms in your neighborhood begin to emerge, you will want to be the one who made sure to care for yourself so your family thrives, not just survives.
Now, go bake those cookies, FaceTime your sister, and take a deep breath. It’s all going to be okay. We’re going to make it. I promise.
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