It’s been well known for many decades that parenting is the ultimate long term investment. It is a journey of time, money and resources infused into the life of another to make them useful and valuable to society. However, so many parents struggle to manage themselves that the gusto and energy to raise the next great scientist or baker, is dulled by the unrelenting pressures of life.
How do parents endure to the end? How do they beat the odds? How do they (despite life’s daily pressures) still raise an awesome human being? HOWWWW????!!!! Well I am glad you asked. The answer to this question at best is multifaceted but for now will be surmised in the words SELF-CARE.
Self-Care: What is it?
Self-care incorporates the right to dignity and self-worth. It encompasses, responsibility for self, emotional rest and nourishment, physical rest and nourishment, self-control, appreciation and compensation for good work (both in the home and at the work place).
On a personal level self-care requires that you effectively monitoring all parts of your body for tension. After scanning the body for tension, self-care requires that you use specific techniques that eliminate the pressure you feel. These techniques include monitoring sleep patterns and using alternative relaxation strategies. The ability to develop a consistent sleep pattern that meets your parental age and gender quota and will enable better self-care. Techniques that promote sleep include the use of common noises, smells and lighting that encourages you to unwind and rest. Added to sleep is the use of specific methods that draw tension out of the body. These methods include deep tissue massages and progressive muscle relaxation, both of which are extremely psychological and effective in releasing stored up energy related to stress. AHHHHHH!!!!
On a psychological level, parents you are tasked with developing a self-care programme that balances work and play. Ideally, you should endeavour as best you can to include frequent contact with calming stimuli. This may include nature trips or simply time alone. The power of calming stimuli, rests in its ability to center one’s soul and promote a re-connection with inner peace and life goals. Easily this can be achieved through the practice of spiritual beliefs, times for prayer and meditation.
Professionally at the job place, you can encounter some of the greatest task demands comparable only to the home. WOAHHH!!!!! The tyranny of the now that is placed on you by demanding bosses makes the idea of balance a deep longing but a distant reality. However, because the effects of poor self-care are so far reaching this is an important area to invest creativity and ingenuity. For instance, success at this task requires a level of realism in differentiating things that can change and accepting those that cannot (the old adage). This first level of awareness supports other steps such as making a commitment and sticking to it. Goal setting and strategies for letting go of work in a timely manner is critical for gaining self-care achievement. Making a commitment to setting boundaries of time between your professional duty and dual/multiple job roles (to ensure that the work-home balance is achieved) plays an important role in taking care of oneself.
For most, the ability to achieve a life balance is strongly influenced by getting support both at work and at home. Peer support, family support, role models and mentors provide necessary help, that allows you to achieve your parenting goals over the course of time. These persons usually help to encourage healthy coping strategies on many personal dimensions.
Supporters can help you problem-solve, as well as provide you with useful information that makes decision making and goal setting easier.
Supporters can reaffirm the normalcy of being assertive about your personal needs, be a venting buddy, provide an opportunity for empathetic listening, communication and feedback.
Supporters can be used to engage in fun activities that you enjoy or to provide supervision for children allowing you to develop coping strategies like time alone.
A support system can function to allow discussion on beliefs and spiritual matters, company to practice spiritual and faith based rituals and at times the provision of literature to read about spiritual beliefs and development.
A support system can be the source of positive affirmations and wanted physical touch such as a reaffirming hug in a low or stressful moment. Physically, a support system can be used as an exercise partner to achieve your health and wellness goals that make life pleasurable.
Finally I wish to say that although the idea of self-care can seem intriguing, the process of creating and working a plan can also seem overwhelming or even impossible. However, parents if you take the time and commit to a small action step each week (work one aspect of self-care into your weekly schedules), a workable pattern will be achieved and eventually you will develop the motivation and confidence to radically change your life in the long run.
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Asha Langdon Guest Expert Blogger
Asha Langdon is a helping professional that works in the area of counselling and assessments. Her population of interest is children, teens and families where she has worked for over 10 years in various capacities. Today she runs her own private organisation as a counselling psychologist that tailors programmes to meet social and psychological needs from a creative therapy stand point. Visit her page: Aspire Counselling Services - TT