Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Taking Time For Yourself

Being a great parent means taking care of yourself and modeling that self care for your family. Many of my blogs so far have been about what we can do for our kids. And following this advice means being strong and ready to take on the challenge. As Moms we are used to those challenges, doing everything for others, multitasking, being on the move, driving to dance classes, making lunches, breaking up arguments, helping with homework and on and on. Many mothers feel guilty when they do things for themselves and, as a result, get depleted.

Finding time to rest, eat well, and spend time doing things we like may sound like things you don’t have energy for, but they are critical to good parenting. We can’t be the parent we want to be if we are at our wits end most of the time. Here are some practical tips to help you take care of yourself. Remember: giving to yourself is a gift to your family.

1. Go on a virtual vacation
Close the door and sit at the computer, choose some great music for the background, go to the place where you keep your pictures on the computer and hit slide show mode. You can run pictures of vacations you’ve been on and get swept away. Or look at photos of a happy family gathering and see those smiling faces. This is what you do it all for.

2. Get together with friends
Choose a night once or twice a month to get together with good friends and stick to it. And don’t spend all night talking about the kids!

3. Walk
Go for a walk alone in nature if possible.

4. Express your creativity
A few hours doing something creative apart from your family can do a lot to recharge your batteries.

5. Take a bath with candles, music or a great book
I know this sounds corny and cliché, but it really is soothing and comforting. Bring a book or listen to a great book on your iPod to take yourself away and relax. Choose a bath night and tell your whole family you are sticking to it and to respect that time.

6. Get a Mother’s Helper
See if there’s a younger teen or tween in your neighborhood who can help you once a week. If they’re too young to babysit, they can help by playing with younger kids so you can get other things done, or rest. Little ones are fascinated by bigger kids and the tween or young teen will love the responsibility.

7. Delegate
It won’t always be done just the way you like it, but it is important to spread responsibilities around. It’s good for the kids and it’s good for you. Get your kids to help out.

8. Laugh
Take time to laugh and be silly. Rent a great DVD of a standup comedian, watch a funny movie and laugh–it’s so healing and so fun.

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