Are you Nurturing Yourself while Raising Your Child, yet? We're on the homestretch of this "Self-care for Parents" series, so take advantage of these last couple of posts about self-care. That's what helps you notice when you're off-balance and recover quickly, which is essential to resilience.
“Self-care builds your connection with who you are at the core of your being so that when the tides of life get rough, you are anchored and don’t get swept away.” - Timothy James
Our body sends us constant signals about what's working, and what's not working, in our lives. Those signals often come in the form of uncomfortable sensations in our bodies. Sometimes these are strong enough that we interpret them as an emotion -- we realize that we're feeling frustrated, or sad, or worried.
But often, we just feel uncomfortable, or worn out, or irritable, and it doesn't feel good. Before we even notice, we're smothering our discomfort with little addictions to make ourselves feel better -- comfort food, social media, online shopping. But that's like having a blinking light on the dashboard of your car and responding by pulling the wires out so the light stops blinking. It isn't exactly sustainable. Something will eventually break down.
When your energy is being sapped by things that make you anxious or weigh you down, you can’t be emotionally generous toward your child. That stone in your shoe may seem small, but it's wearing you down, hobbling your full aliveness -- and your relationship with your child.
What if you just paid attention to those little annoyances, and addressed them? Even if each one takes a few weeks or a month to clear up, think how much better your life will be in a few months.
How do you know what you need to clear up? If it makes you feel bad inside, or "act bad" outside, it’s draining you. For instance, if you frequently find yourself in a bad mood at the same time of day, listen to the message your gut is sending you. Then, consider how you could care for yourself in this situation, while still being respectful of others? Depending on your issue, this might mean you:
- Start the bedtime routine half an hour earlier so you can stay more patient.
- Have your partner or friend take the kids all Saturday afternoon so you can finally tackle a project that you’ve been putting off, like making your way through that pile of bills and paperwork. (Be sure to approach the pile with gratitude so you can zoom through it.)
- Change your morning routine to include more connection, so everyone starts the day in a good mood. (Wondering how? Here are some ideas.)
- Stop fighting with your child about a particular issue and work out a win/win solution that meets your needs -- and his.
- If some behavior from your child drives you crazy, consider what is driving that behavior and make it your new project to address that. For instance, if sibling rivalry is causing friction in your house, make a plan to strengthen your relationship with each child, teach the kids skills to work out their conflicts, and emotion-coach each child to work through their jealousy. (There are lots of Sibling resources on this website.)
- If you're tired of fighting about screen time, start over with a screen fast, and ease back into screen usage with a written agreement that you can live with.
- If you're tired of doing all the work to keep your house picked up, have a family meeting and come up with solutions so that everyone participates.
If you're like most parents, you have a long list of things that are sapping your energy. Why not pick one, and make a plan to make it better? Whether it takes a week or three months to make a change, you'll feel a lot happier as you work toward your goal. Just take it one step at a time, and cheer yourself on.
Every time you resolve a long-standing problem, throw something away, cross something off your list, or remove a negative influence, you’re casting off a burden. That gives you more energy to do what’s really important, whether that’s staying patient with your child or nurturing yourself. You won't have as many breakdowns in your life. And you'll probably find you feel a whole lot more alive.
Next Post: What if you can't stand it but can't eliminate it?
This is post #8 in our series on self care: The Secret of the Full Cup.
The previous posts were: