Written by, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C
Many parents get into the habit of believing that in order to nourish ourselves, we need a grand gesture or a day away from the children. While that is nice sometimes, we also need to find smaller moments throughout the day to fit in body and soul nourishment. Especially around this time of year, when we find that we are doing more for others, it is important to fill our own tank as well.
One of the issues I hear from parents when it comes to self-care is that there is no time or money or that when you do start taking care of yourself it just reminds you of how little care you have been getting. Well, the last issue is for another post on another day (I am planning on writing that post), but in the meantime, here is a list of quick and easy self-care ideas that even a parent with a small child can find a moment in the day to do. Most of them cost little or no money. Please feel free to use the ones that work for you and lose the ones that don’t. I want to include this list in the book I am writing and would love it if you would share any other quick and easy self-care tips you have. You may notice that you already do some of them, like drinking water. For this list, the idea is not to just drink the water, but to enjoy doing it and to mark it in your mind as something you did today to take care of yourself.
- Put lotion on your feet before you put your socks on.
- Take a deep breath, hold it for a slow count of two, then let it go. Repeat two more times.
- Try EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to enhance the good feeling you are having, or to clear away a difficult feeling. Here is a video of Cheryl Richardson teaching this technique in five minutes, but if you want to really take care of yourself, you can get the book by Jack Canfield and Pamela Brunner Tapping Into Ultimate Success (you can find this book quickly on amazon by clicking the amazon link on the top left of the screen).*
- Set a timer for five minutes and start clearing off a surface of your home that has been bothering you. Stop when the alarm goes off. Look at what you just accomplished for yourself!
- Sit and drink a glass of water. If you want to get really fancy, cut a slice of cucumber, lemon or apple and put it in the water. Allow yourself to enjoy the water as it cleanses your body.
- Light a candle that you have been saving for a special occasion. Now is the special occasion.
- Get the app on your phone called Quick Reminders (it’s free) and type in an affirmation for yourself then tell your phone to remind you of your affirmation regularly.
- Take a moment and stretch your body. Start at your head and slowly and gently circle your head around clockwise, then counter-clockwise. Circle your shoulders around, circle your wrists and elbows. Circle your hips around, clockwise, then counter-clockwise. Bend your knees. Circle your ankles around. Wiggle your toes. Bend and touch your toes, then reach up to the sky. Open your arms to the world and breathe in happiness.
- Imagine your body filling with a colored light that feels like the right color to you right now.
- Take a shower and enjoy the feeling of the water on your skin. Even better, take a bath.
- Treat yourself to reading an article you have been thinking about, or an extra chapter in the book you have next to the bed.
- Close your eyes for five minutes and take a power nap.
- Put your hand on your heart, close your eyes, and thank yourself for the good things you have done to make your life good in this moment.
- Say a prayer of thanks for the gifts that you have.
- Listen to a song that puts you in a good mood.
- Look up a funny video on YouTube and get a good laugh.
- Find a picture of yourself from when you were little, and tell the child in the picture some of the good things that are coming his or her way.
- Purchase a deck of gratitude cards, angel cards, etc, and pull one for yourself. Remind yourself of the message on the card.
- Give yourself a mini manicure or pedicure.
- Step outside and look at the sky. Touch a tree or feel your bare feet on the ground. Take a moment to enjoy nature.
I am certain that I have not covered every self-care tip out there, this was just the first 20 I could think of. I am so curious to know what it is that you do to take care of yourself quickly during the day. Please share!
The Art of Breathing (help4yourfamily.com)
Parent Affirmation Monday- Being Present (help4yourfamily.com)
*See disclaimer page
Ten Free Ways for Parents to Break Free of a Bad Mood (I’ll bet there are a few you’ve never thought of)
Picture yourself, it’s Sunday around 3:00 pm. You have already watched the children slowly dismantle any progress you made in getting the house into order over the week while they were in school. They have gone through the playdates, video games, television and 1/2 the board games- as evidenced by the living room floor. As you think about whether you are up for making dinner and wondering if you even have anything to make, you start to get grumpy. Okay, you were already grumpy. Maybe you have already yelled at them a few times and now, in addition to feeling overwhelmed about the mess in your home, you are also feeling bad about the words you have said- not that you are going to stop saying them mind you, because you are stuck in a loop of grumpy, nasty behavior…the same kind you get angry with your kids for having. Below are a few techniques to help break free from the grumpy nasties and I’m quite sure there are a few you have not tried yet. Why not print out the full list at the bottom of the post and stick it on your fridge to try out when the grumpies strike again?
1. Put the kids in the tub or shower or take a bath or shower yourself. Something about being in the water helps to set the reset button for kids and sometimes adults. If you are taking a bath or shower, visualize all the angry, grumpy feelings getting washed off of you and watch them go down the drain.
2. Set up a behavioral chart for yourself (if you get through something without yelling, you get a point and x number of points gets you something like a night out, a new cd you’ve had your eye on, etc. I cover this one in my post “Ditch Your Behavior Charts!”).
3. Tap on the inside of your pinky finger and say three times “I forgive myself, I did the best I could do.” Then, continue tapping and repeat three times “I forgive myself, I’m doing the best I can.” Don’t ask how it works, it’s an accupressure technique, just try it! You know a big part of what you are doing has to do with the way you are talking to yourself about what is happening right now. Think about ways you can forgive yourself- this is one of them.
4. Imagine you are speaking to someone who loves you, your best friend who always knows what to say, your grandmother, whoever, and pretend they are with you right now guiding you.
5. Learn EFT. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is a quick, easy tapping technique that can help in all kinds of different areas of your life. It addresses anxiety, depression, traumatic memories and much more. Here is a link to someone teaching EFT. I would recommend just doing the shortcut he teaches in the first 6 minutes. It’s all I ever really teach and it seems to be enough. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPZ-xmj6KTI&feature=related. If you really want to learn more, check out this site: http://eftuniverse.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=18&Itemid=21
6. Do a quick 5 minute spurt of exercise even though it is the last thing you feel like doing right now. Partly this is just going to break the pattern by doing something different from what you were originally going to do next. Add to that a quick, natural endorphin rush, and a feeling like you just took care of your body for a moment and it can really do the trick. A great exercise that we do sometimes in our home that really gets us moving and laughing is playing “Just Dance” on the Wii. We crack up as we watch each other try to get the moves right. Just make sure no one gets hit with the remote. Remind yourself that you don’t have to be at the gym and doing a full workout to get a little benefit from exercise. See how long it takes you to go up and down the stairs of your home or apartment building 10 times, jog in place, race the kids a few times in the yard.
7. Cry. You read that right. Think of the energy we spend holding back tears when really tears can be quite healing and good. Even better than crying is crying in a hot shower. That really gives your body a release. Your tears actually carry stress hormones, that are otherwise trapped in your body, out of your body. So, when I say it’s a release, I mean it, you are letting go of stress hormones when you cry. Also, people worry about crying in front of children. Unless this is a recurring issue- in which case I think you need to read my post on finding a therapist, crying in front of your kids a few times a year is okay and actually can teach them about allowing themselves to show feelings and get comfort.
8. Change locations. When the kids were little I called them, “I need a witness days.” I didn’t need a witness for them. I needed a witness for me. I needed to go out of the house so that I would be more mindful of how I was acting with my children. Also, just getting out and going to the park gets you away from some of the compounding factors that may be contributing to your mood.
9. Accept help. Remember how you did something wonderful for your friend or neighbor and they were so thankful and told you if you ever needed anything to call? Call. Ask for help. Accept imperfect help from your spouse, partner or friend while you go out to take a walk or clean up so you can feel sane again. Sure, they may not do things the way you want them to, but are you doing things the way you want to right now? Right. Ask for and accept the help.
10. Picture yourself tomorrow, thinking back on today. What do you want to say you did today when you were feeling this way? Do you want to say, “yesterday I was in a foul mood and I couldn’t pull myself out of it?” or do you want to say, “Yesterday I was in a foul mood, then I remembered this list of things to do to get me out of it. I looked on there and found something and I’m pretty proud of myself because I gathered the children and pulled myself together and we all went for a walk. The rest of the day went pretty good.” Once you have pictured what you want to say. Break it down into three smaller steps, what you need to do to get to feeling that way.
Good luck! Let me know what works for you, or, even better, add to the list…
- Does my child need medication? (help4yourfamily.com)
- Making Peace With Your Inner Critic
- Happy Parent Tip #1
- Why Sexual Abuse is Never a Child’s Fault…Not Even a Teenager
- Naming Patterns Changes Patterns
- This is your brain on attachment
- Last Chance for Two Great Opportunities
- Mother’s Retreat Weekend- It’s Really Happening!
- Stopping the Parent Shame and Blame Game
- Making Peace With Your Inner Critic
- Putting together something fun for you!
- Quick Jobs for Kids
- Staying Strong as a Couple