Becoming a new parent is an overwhelming experience. It can take a while to find your way and get comfortable with the situation while you’re scrambling to keep up with diaper changes, late-night feedings, and daycare needs.
Amid all the chaos, it’s natural to lose focus on your own needs. You promise yourself that you’ll make time once everything’s under control; unfortunately, everything’s never fully under control when you’re a new parent — you’re always on the clock, and there’s always something left to do. However, you can’t just ignore your mental and physical needs, especially when being healthy and productive is so essential. The trick is to find ways to incorporate self-care strategies into your day and have faith that everything that needs to get done will get done.
There are certain aspects of self-care that should be observed without question. That means getting enough sleep, eating right (and regularly), and exercising. These fundamentals are so essential to your health and well-being that ignoring any one of them can seriously threaten your ability to provide good care for your little one.
A full night’s sleep is one of the first things to go when you’re the parent of a newborn or young child, but sleep deprivation is very dangerous to your health. To maintain your well-being, you have to find a way to get the restful sleep you need so you don’t get sick or lose mental acuity during the day, neither of which will benefit your child.
Avoid defaulting to the convenience of junk food or fast food, and make a point of following a healthy diet emphasizing the basics (vegetables, whole grains, fruit, etc.). If you’re too busy to be a discriminating shopper and cook, consider using a food delivery service to make things easier and your meals healthier. If for no other reason, keep junk food out of the house to prevent your children from over-consuming these high-fat foods as they grow up, which can lead to diseases later in life.
And consider hiring someone to come in to clean house if it frees up some valuable personal time. Go online to find housekeeping services near you. These services generally cost between $100 - $200. Also, look for ways to work a little exercise into your day. When you have a few quiet minutes, hit the treadmill, hop on the exercise bike, or do a few laps on the stairs — anything to get your heart rate up and your muscles flexing.
Since much of your emotional health is dependent upon how comfortable you are in your surroundings, it also makes sense to create serenity at home. Paint each room with colors that make you feel calm. Allow lots of natural light into the house.
Quiet Your Thoughts
There is a great benefit to spending a few minutes with yourself early in the morning before the day gets really busy or late at night after your youngster’s gone to sleep. Quiet your thoughts by meditating or just sitting quietly and doing some deep breathing exercises. It’s important to try and make that mind-body connection when your life is chaotic. The good thing is you can turn to breathing exercises anywhere and anytime your day gets crazy. Yoga can also have a restful, restorative effect on your mind and sense of well-being. If you’ve never tried it before, there are plenty of “how-to” yoga videos on YouTube to get you started. There are also plenty of DVDs and meditation classes available to guide you through the process if you’re just beginning.
At some point, every parent just needs to get out of the house and spend time doing something they enjoy. It might be a night out with friends, an afternoon at the mall, a mani/pedi appointment, or a solo hike in the mountains — anything that takes the edge off will benefit you mentally and emotionally and make you a better mom or dad. Ask your partner, a relative or friend to babysit now and then to take the pressure off yourself, if only for a little while.
Being a good parent is your first priority, your most important job. However, it becomes a very difficult job if you don’t take care of yourself. That means getting your sleep, eating right, and getting a breather now and then. Ultimately, self-care is crucial for effective parental care.
Amanda Henderson is a mom to two wonderful, active boys and a preschool teacher. She enjoys writing in her free time and recently decided to create safechildren.info so that she would have a place to share her thoughts and favorite resources on parenting and child safety.
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