Parenting is a more than full time job. You’re constantly busy and likely stressed from handling a million tasks from morning ‘til night—and everywhere in between. What with taking of your children, your own work and other responsibilities, you rarely have even a brief moment to take care of yourself. Healthy eating and exercise gets thrown to the wayside, sleep is disrupted, and self-care seems almost impossible. While these sacrifices are done in the name of love and responsibility, all this sacrificing can eventually backfire.
What happens when you disregard your own needs?
Neglecting your own self-care in order to take care of others sometimes becomes internalized as a subconscious resentment of the fact you can’t get any personal time or space. This resentment, combined with day-to-day parenting frustrations, can bubble up to the surface and cause outbursts of anger.
Human beings naturally have a shorter fuse when dealing with their own personal problems. Headaches, head cold, pregnancy symptoms, post-partum depression and other discomforts must be pushed aside in order to tend to children, run the house, and work a busy job, keeping you on the go from sun up to sun down. Regardless of all these stressors, parents must continue to move forward despite how they feel mentally, emotionally, and physically. This can put them at risk for overloading and exploding.
Kids don’t get it.
Children are unable to comprehend their parents stress or discomfort and continue with their usual whining, bickering and nagging – which can push an already distressed parent past the breaking point. Even normal happy (yet noisy!) play can trigger an angry reaction from a parent suffering from pain or sleep-deprivation. If these angry outbursts continue on a regular basis, it can result in confusing parental behavior which can interfere with good discipline practices. There’s even a possibility of it damaging the parent-child relationship over time.
How do you avoid these pitfalls?
Be in touch with your own needs. Of course you have to, and want to, take care of your family, but taking care of yourself is equally important. Self-care starts with healthy eating, daily exercise, and getting as close to adequate sleep as possible. Self-care also means finding a little bit of time for yourself; time to calm your emotions and take a deep breath or two.
You don’t need to run away from home for a week – even a half hour a day of “me time” can take the edge off. It’s important to do whatever you need to do to stay sane and centered—read a book, have coffee with a friend, tend your garden, work on a hobby, take a jog, pray, practice yoga or meditate.
Meeting your own needs will help you to better take care of others. It is not selfish; it is imperative for your well-being and your relationship with your family.
~ These tips are from The No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley