Being a parent can be an immensely rewarding experience. But even the sweet moments of raising young children don’t change the fact that it can also lead to some intense burnout. After putting in the time that your children need, you may find that there isn’t much left over for you. Months and years of putting yourself last—or not meeting your needs at all—will leave you depleted and, ironically, less able to give your children what they need. Fortunately, you can meet your children’s needs as well as your own. You just have to make an effort to seek balance. Here are some tips you can use to maintain a healthy balance between being a parent and taking care of yourself in 2017.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is a luxury for parents, especially for parents of young children. You may not feel, however, that it’s a luxury you can afford. A common trap for many parents of young children is to stay up into the wee hours of the night, just to get some time for themselves. While you shouldn’t deny yourself the opportunity to get “you” time, there are other ways around the issue. Many studies show that children aren’t getting enough sleep either, so why not put your little ones to bed an hour earlier? You can get a bit of time to yourself and still get enough rest. Your little ones will get enough rest too. You may be surprised by how much the extra sleep benefits everyone’s moods.
Lean on Your Support System
You may have people on your support team already, such as a cooperative spouse or helpful family members. If you do have those supportive relationships already in place, it’s important to lean on them to get an occasional break. But even if you don’t already have that type of support system, you can cultivate one. Consider trading child care for an afternoon with friends whose kids are the same age as yours. Many communities even have paid drop-in care centers. It’s important to give yourself a break, even for just a couple hours.
Make Time for Exercise
A lot of parents of young children are so consumed with meeting their children’s needs that their own needs get neglected. Exercise is a commonly neglected need. If you make an effort to get some exercise, it will ultimately benefit your child by modeling healthy habits and ensuring you’ll be around longer. But it’s also important to remember that meeting your needs doesn’t necessarily mean you must take time away from your child. Exercise is a great example of an occasion when you can meet your own needs while also spending time with your child. Try jogging with your child in a stroller (if you have a little one) or biking as a family. If a traditional gym is more your style, many of them have available onsite child care.
Outsource Some of Your Tasks
You have so many responsibilities. It makes sense if you feel like something has to give. You can give up some of your tasks without guilt to make more time for yourself. Consider outsourcing housework by hiring part-time housekeeping help. Maybe you can use a meal-preparation service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron, which cuts down on meal prep and shopping time. Be creative about some of the tasks other people can do for you. Many of these services are more affordable than you may think.
Be Mindful About Your Time
It’s important to get a bit of time to yourself whenever possible. As your children grow, you will have more time available to pursue your hobbies and the activities that help you relax. In the meantime, mindful time management will help you find and maximize the extra time in your schedule. For example, you may not feel like you get much time to yourself in the average day. But if you keep a log of how much time you spend watching TV or browsing Facebook, for example, you may find that you do have more time to yourself than you thought. You can choose to spend it more wisely on things that matter more to you.
Finding the balance between parenting and meeting your own needs is always a challenge for good parents. You want to do a great job raising your kids and you know that requires some sacrifices. Just remember that you can’t completely sacrifice the things you need to stay sane and well-balanced. Your relationship with your child will benefit when you model that your needs are also important.
To learn more about parenting, contact me for a free 10-minute consultation.