Nothing like parenting to make you feel inept. One minute you’re overwhelmed with your own brilliance; the next you are shaking your head with self-disgust. Effective parenting is a moving target, forever imperfect and, let’s be honest, it’s the one thing most of us knuckleheads do that is more complicated than rocket science. Where am I going with this? A quick lesson on how to set limits with your children? Nope. I want to focus on you because there is one aspect of effective parenting you will be thrilled to know is not so perplexing yet critical to raising your little munchkins. Taking care of yourself!

Let’s break it down. Self-care is simple, right? Eat a few more veggies and a few less loaves of bread. Sleep 6-8 hours most of the time. Take a walk sometimes and don’t forget to breath. Have friends. Practice forgiveness. Solve your problems even if it is scary to do so. Do one thing that you love at least once a day for a few minutes. I could go on but really it is not that complicated. It IS daunting. In order to care for yourself you must carve out time when you would normally be taking care of someone or something else. That is where we get stuck. This doesn’t always feel comfortable or possible and because we are human we tend to move away from discomfort and what we perceive to be the impossible.

I am human too so am no genius at this self-care thing either. Having presented that disclaimer up front I will share what I know:

  • You don’t need to care for yourself ALL the time just most of the time, particularly when life is really coming at you. You can do that.
  • Implement change in small increments. In other words, lower your expectations and celebrate your small successes. You can do that too.
  • Don’t try to be “expert” at self-care just be better than you are now. You can do that tooo! (Note: That third “o” is not a typo. It is encouragement!)
  • When you take some time away from your children to take care of yourself you will be a better parent.
  • We fool ourselves into thinking that very soon life will slow down enough for us to take care of ourselves. Trust me, when this happens it will be too late. You will be dead. Sorry, I don’t know how else to say it.

My self-care plan involves getting better at playing the bongos (see pic above). Please note I have never played and have no rhythm. Obviously, I’ll do anything to be a better parent.

Your turn. Get going, now. Your burning daylight.