Parents: Self-Care is Not for You

Self Care for Parents?

If you’re a parent, especially a parent of a young, needy child, or multiple children, you may have heard about self-care for parents, and thought,
“That’s not for me; I’m too busy…”
/ “…too tired…”
/ “…too broke…”
/ “…too something.”

“That self-care stuff is not for me!”
~you, probably

“Self care is not for me!”

Well, guess what?

You’re right.

Self care is not for you.

I’m here to tell you why.

But first, I want to waste a little more of your time, by placing different types of self-care into arbitrary categories:

  1. Meeting Your Basic Physical Human Needs

  2. Meeting Your Social and Emotional Needs

  3. Having Fun / Other

None of these things are for you.
Not completely, anyway.
Doing anything for you may seem selfish,
but this stuff benefits others, too.

Parents, self care is not for you.
It’s for your kids.

Meeting Your Basic Physical Human Needs

Self-Care activities that fit into this category:

  • eating
  • hydrating
  • sleeping
  • exercise
  • and sometimes hygiene

Why it’s not for you:

Without these, your health will deteriorate, making you more prone to injury, burnout, or even illness, any of which could leave you unable to properly care for your family. (That’s where the “You can’t help your children put on their oxygen masks if you pass out from lack of oxygen” analogy gets pretty close to literal here.)

It’s not for you. It’s for your kids.
Take care of your body so you can be healthy enough to take care of theirs.

Meeting Your Social and Emotional Needs

Self-Care activities that fit into this category:

  • having a job or other social obligation, away from the kids
  • spending time with your significant other, away from the kids
  • spending time with your friends and family, away from the kids
  • spending time by yourself, away from the kids

Why it’s not for you:

Too much time spent with any one person can really put tension on a relationship. You’re feeling bored, agitated, and wishing for a little privacy. If you grew up with siblings, or close friends who spent many of their waking hours with you, or ever lived with a never-minding-their-own-business type of roommate, you know this.
But, this problem can also apply to the parent-child relationship.

Have you ever gone so long without doing something for yourself, or taking a minute alone, that you lose your temper and just start yelling about the smallest things?
(I have, and I hated myself while it was happening.)

It may not be an excuse, but not taking care of your emotional health is certainly a reason for extreme irritability. In fact, it almost guarantees it.
That’s not fair to your children.
The other people in your household may feel like they have to walk on eggshells around you if your fuse is too short from not getting your emotional needs met..

It’s not for you. It’s for your kids.
Take care of your mental health so you don’t wreck theirs.

Having Fun

Self-Care activities that fit into this category:

  • whatever the heck you want to do
    (that’s the fun)
  • anything that builds your personality and personhood, outside of parenthood
    (this could also be fun, but it might not always be)

This list is vague because there’s so much you could personally consider as “self-care” and such a wide variety of things people could consider “fun.”
The obvious ones include just sitting around (this doubles as rest for your body!), and consuming easy entertainment.
And while the mind-numbing activities such as browsing social media or watching TV have their place in self-care (resting that brain is important), consider picking up a new or dormant hobby.

Possible non-kid hobbies include:

  • learning something new
  • playing a sport
  • playing an instrument
  • doing some art
    (so many activities could fit under the “art” umbrella)
  • starting a blog
    (Is it meta that I’m mentioning this on my blog?)

Why it’s not for you:

Your kids might learn something. Maybe seeing you work at something other than raising them might inspire them to pick up the same and/or a similar hobby. It could result in giving you something to bond over later.

Even if your kids do not have the same interests as you, seeing you engaged in an activity that interests you could also help your children realize that you are a whole person, other than just “Mom” or “Dad” who existed before you became a parent. This is not an easy concept for children to grasp, but an important step in developing human empathy.

It’s not for you. It’s for your kids.
Do something that makes you happy so they will see you as a positive example of a multi-dimensional person who knows how to prioritize the things they love to do.

How do you make time for all this?

Sorry, I don’t know.

I’m still working on finding that balance.

I guess that’s a post for another time.

If I figure out the secrets to a balanced life, I’ll let you know.
If you already have the secrets… Please share?  I want to know, too!

Either way, please take whatever time you can to take care of yourself.
Your kids need it.



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Have a great week!  ❤





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