There comes a time in every parent’s life when someone will ask, “So! What do you like to do for fun?” If you’re like most new parents, your mind will probably draw a blank, and you’ll find yourself wondering, “What DO I do for fun?” Next thing you know, you find yourself immersed in a flood of existential questions like, “Who even am I anymore? I used to be fun! I used to have hobbies! I used to DO things regularly! What happened to me??“
A kid. A kid is what happened to you.
That’s not to say that you don’t love your kid: you do! But it can feel like that adorable little bundle has sucked out your interests, energy, brain, and soul with his tiny, perfect, rosebud-shaped lips. And what’s worse, when you finally start trying to get out there and find yourself again, the world slaps on an impressive layer of guilt that if your child isn’t your first priority, you’re not a good parent.
Don’t get us wrong: your child should absolutely be a top priority, but there needs to be at least a little time each day where you put yourself first. Carving out a few minutes per day to take care of your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs can go a long way in helping you be the best parent you can be. Unfortunately, when your day feels packed from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, squeezing in a little “me time” can seem unattainable. Fortunately, self-care can take just a couple of minutes per day, and it can make a world of difference. Here are seven simple self-care ideas to get you started.
1. Get Good Sleep: At Tiny Transitions, we are passionate about helping everyone in the family get a full night’s sleep because we know how much good it does for the body and soul. Our certified sleep trainers can help even the most stubborn child sleep through the night. We can provide newborn sleep help, solutions for older kids who won’t sleep, and everything in between.
2. Set Some Goals: Setting and reaching small daily goals can make you feel terrific about yourself, and the best part is that the goals don’t even need to be difficult to achieve. Simple goals, such as brushing your teeth twice a day, exercising for 20 minutes a few times per week, or drinking eight cups of water each day, are easy to do and help keep your body healthy.
3. Take Care of Your Skin: Having a simple, daily skincare routine will keep your skin looking fresh and clean, which often translates to confidence in other areas of life. Additionally, working in a bit of exercise, opting for water over soda pop or alcohol, eating healthy foods, and limiting sweets or junk food takes care of your body without necessarily taking time out of your day.
4. Read a Book: Taking a little bit of time each day to read a book is not only good for your soul, but it also sets an excellent example for your kids. You might even check your local library to see if they have any book clubs, so you can get out and meet other literature-minded individuals.
5. Talk to a Friend: Humans need social connections, so scheduling a time to chat with a friend or family member a couple of times a week can lift your spirits. It’s easy to get caught up in your little one’s needs, but setting aside time to connect with others is a great way to boost your mental health.
6. Meditate and Reflect: In the morning, taking five minutes before getting out of bed to work on your breathing and clear your mind is a good way to take care of yourself. At bedtime, take a moment to write down a few things that happened that day. Reflecting in a journal can help you clear your mind and be ready for sleep.
7. Put it on the Calendar: Sometimes you have to schedule a little bit of “me” time to ensure that you get it. There is nothing wrong with setting aside an hour or two to get a good haircut, a massage, or a manicure. Even just going to the local coffee shop to read the paper alone while your partner or babysitter watches the kids can be a huge mood-lifter.
It isn’t always possible to take large chunks of time for yourself when you have small children, but you may be surprised how much better you feel when you consciously try to schedule little bits of time here and there. Contrary to what the world says, not taking a shower for four days because you’re too busy with the kids isn’t a badge of honor. Knowing who you are and carving out a portion of each day to take care of your physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental health makes you a better person, partner, and parent.