Friday, August 31, 2012

Parents: Make Time for Yourself

Today's post doesn't offer ideas for things to do with kids. Today's post is for parents.

What will you do to take care of yourself today? 

If you're a homeschooler or stay-at-home parent of pre-schoolers, you spend lots of time with your kids. Likely all day. How do you take care of yourself? How do you make sure your own needs are met? It's easy to focus all of your time and energy on your children. But don't forget about yourself and your adult relationships.

I experienced a glimpse of this when we returned from our vacation this summer. After three full weeks of being with my kids-literally 24/7- I felt my patience running low. I was short with my kids when I wouldn't normally be. I got the message. My husband and I asked one of the grandparents to babysit and we went to dinner together. Alone. Just the two of us. I also made plans for a playdate so my kids could play with other kids and I could talk with the other mom. My patience returned.

If you have young kids returning to school for the first time, perhaps you're feeling a little blue now that they're gone- the empty house issue. Especially if you're a stay at home parent, this transition can be challenging for some. Sure, you have more freedom in how you spend your days, but you may miss your kids. Even if you're excited to be back in a regular routine and able to get all of those things done that had to wait when the kids were around, you may find yourself feeling disoriented or off-balance somehow. My kids started school on Tuesday, but it didn't hit me until yesterday. On Tuesday I was totally driven- I had a list of writing tasks I wanted to do and I plowed through them. I ended the day feeling great. But then, come Thursday, I was in a bit of  a funk- wandering around the house, unfocused, missing them.

So what did I do? I packed up my laptop and headed to my favorite local coffee shop. I grabbed a cup of coffee, sat down and got to work on this post. This strategy works for me for two reasons. 1. I don't frequent the shop with my kids so I don't think about them. 2. It gets me out of my house away from my household "To Do" list and into a place where I know I can be productive. When I work toward my writing goals I feel better.

And what about working parents? The same applies. You should find ways to take care of yourself, too. It might be hard to do, but please find the time. For you, taking care of yourself might be the reverse of the sty-at-home parent. I know this is true for my husband. When he gets home from work he just wants to hang out with our kids- hear about their day, read to them, play outside. Whatever. But he also plays soccer several times a week, as well. That's what works for him. How about you?

Taking time for yourself doesn't mean you don't love your kids or want to be with them. Rather, taking care of yourself is also taking care of your kids. You can't be a good parent/partner/husband/wife if you don't take care of yourself and your adult relationships. Figure out what you need and make sure you get it. Take a walk. Soak in the tub. Read a book. Paint. Lay in the grass and watch the clouds go by. Figure out what you need and make time for it in your week.

 And, so, I return to my initial question. What will you do to take care of yourself today?

Related Posts:
Stress Therapy: Get Back to Nature 


  1. When my daughter was older she told us how much she loved us going away without her...because we came back so relaxed and happy and refreshed. Interesting to know. So take the time you need. Your kids will appreciate your taking the time you need to take your of yourself...they just might not be aware of it yet. Great and important post for parents, Michelle.

    1. Oops....I meant to say "take care of yourself". I should have proofread more carefully!

    2. Carol, thanks for sharing your personal experience to illustrate this point. I think parents need to be reminded of this once in a while when we get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle.