help4yourfamily

Create the family you want to have

Parent Affirmation Monday- self-care 9/3/2012

Reading a book

Reading a book (Photo credit: Ed Yourdon)

Written by, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C

If you are like most parents I see in my practice and you read the title and know this week is about self-care, you might be thinking about skipping this weeks affirmation. Don’t! It might be the most important affirmation of all. We have all heard the warning on the airplane where we are instructed that should the pressure drop and the air masks come down from the ceiling we need to put the masks on ourselves first. Have you ever thought why that might be the instruction? Well, think about it. If you, like most parents, would have the impulse to help your child first and put the mask on them, then you run out of time to put the mask on yourself, there you are passed out and unable to help your child. You are not able to make sure they keep the mask on, stay calm and exit should there be an emergency landing.  Your children end up taking care of you when you do not take care of yourself.

Let’s give an example on a more practical level, because really, how often are you going to need to put an air mask on your child in an airplane? Hopefully never. But what about this? Think about a time when your house was messy. I hope for you this is harder to do than it was for me. Are there days when you felt capable of cleaning your messy home, or at least part of it and you tackled the job? I bet there have also been days when you could not stand to look at it and the thought of cleaning it just made you feel overwhelmed and awful. What is the difference? Was your house messier on the bad day or was it just that your internal state was different? The same is true with our children. When we feel depleted we feel less able to tackle the issues with them as they come along. Rather than handling a bump in the road like forgotten homework or lost shoes or a ornery child the way we would like, we lose it and go into fight or flight mode, constantly reacting without giving real-time or attention to workable solutions that feel good to you and help your child.

Besides minimizing it’s importance, another thing that keeps parents from self-care is the faulty belief that it costs money or takes too much time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, if you can get a day at the spa or go play golf with your friends, that’s great but you do not have to spend a lot of time and money on self-care. The idea is to be aware that you are doing it when you are taking care of yourself and to enhance the moment with gratitude for how smart you were to fit it in.

Some quick and easy ideas for self-care: You know how you put a note in your child’s lunch sometimes just to be nice? Get a post-it note, write- “You are amazing” put it in your gym bag or your treadmill and get a smile the next time you open your bag to do something for yourself. You know how you get your kids a special snack at the grocery store? Grab yourself that lotion you wanted to try. Every night before bed, use it. By the way, I know several men who put lotion on their feet at night and sleep with socks on who have very happy significant others because there are no more scratchy feet. It takes less than one minute. You are worth 30 seconds right? Instead of grabbing a bag of chips or a cigarette, treat yourself to a few nice deep breaths. Put a poem or inspirational quote by your desk at work and say it to yourself.  You know how you think of things to entertain your kids when you take them places? Remember to put a book in the car for you to read- maybe one of those meditation a day books. I particularly enjoy Melody Beattie’s Language of Letting Go Meditation Series of books. You can sit in your car while you wait for the kids to get out of school, or for those few minutes your infant or toddler is sleeping in the car before you wake them up and read a page of inspiration and reflection. Poof! Self-care.

This weeks affirmation is:

I give myself permission to take care of me. I know that when I do, I am a better parent.

P.S.- It’s good to be back from vacation. I missed you all! Later this week, I’m going to send out a request that I think will help us all with self care.

September 3, 2012 - Posted by | affirmations | , , , , , , ,

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