Inspired by Dr. Jacqueline Gad
As a parent, you never stop moving. You’re either driving your kids to footy practice whilst simultaneously helping your other child with their homework, packing lunches, cleaning the house or trying to get little Timmy to stay still, as you cut gum out of his hair. We do these things for our children because we want them to succeed. We want to give them every opportunity to become their best possible self and support them on this difficult and tumultuous journey we call life. Along the way we try to create precious and memorable moments for our little ones, but at what cost? Sometimes we often get so caught up in doing what’s best for our children that we forget to think about ourselves.
There is no doubt in my mind that most parents would do anything to ensure their children have the best possible life, but part of providing the best possible life for your children is taking care of yourself. Wellbeing isn’t just about the absence of illness, rather it is a combination of an individuals physical, emotional, mental and social health factors. In other terms, wellbeing is an all-encompassing term that can be described as how you feel about yourself and your life. When you stop taking care of your wellbeing, your ability to care for your child/ren is hindered which impacts your ability to enjoy parenthood. As frustrating as it can be sometimes, parenthood is an incredibly rewarding experience. At ToBeMe we have one piece of advice that we share with all our families, take care of yourself.
Take Care of Yourself
When my partner and I first fell pregnant, the first thing I did was take formative action to take better care of myself. I exercised regularly, I changed my diet to ensure I was eating healthier and organic, and I eliminated certain stressors from my life to ensure I was as healthy as possible for my little guy. The little baby inside me is directly affected by the decisions I make. However once he was no longer a part of me, I completely dropped any concern about my health and strictly focused on the health of my child.
I completely disassociated the care for myself from the care for my child and anything that seemed important before immediately took the back seat. The only problem with this, is that children are like sponges and are incredibly perceptive. When stress starts to run your schedule, your child can pick up on that energy. When you forget to do things for yourself and things that make you happy, you tend to lose your sense of self. A parent who eats healthy, is well rested, gets plenty of exercise, maintains close relationships with friends and isn’t afraid to ask for help, is far more equipped to be the best parent they can be. Additionally, when your child has memories of you exercising, eating healthy and maintaining healthy relationships, you are setting a positive example for a healthy lifestyle that your children will hopefully adopt later in life.
Four Ways to Ensure You’re Promoting Your Own Wellness and Wellbeing:
- Self-care. It’s easy to lose sight of yourself, your health, and your wellbeing when you have a little one in tow. Although sometimes this may seem easier said than done, try to set some time aside for a quick work out or utilise resources that can make eating healthy easy such as food delivery services. I remember when my mother would get up at 4:00 am to go for her morning run. At the time I thought she was crazy, but overtime I absorbed her healthy habits and now I set aside time every day for a workout, even if it’s just for five minutes. Not only are you taking care of yourself, but you’re setting a good example for your children.
- Self-Identity. Although being a parent is a huge part of who you are, it is not the only thing that identifies your persona. What did you enjoy doing before you were a parent? What was your character? Has it changed since?
- Social circle and community. At ToBeMe, we realise it takes a village to raise a child and we hope to help parents achieve this under one roof. Historically, parents were not meant to raise a child alone. Be sure that you have a good support network who won’t only be there for you physically, but also emotionally.
- Maintain your friendships. You don’t have to lose your friendships because you have a child. Socialising with other adults is very important because associating with like-minded individuals helps to keep you stimulated, feel a sense of belonging and reduce certain mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. It is a common fact that the lack of substantial relational interactions can make one feel alone and isolated.
How Do I Find the Time?
The process of learning to care for your wellbeing is a difficult and strenuous one, especially if you’re a first-time parent. Once you settle into the parent life and feel that your child is in a comfortable routine, assess your situation and analyse whether you have the time and means to focus more of your time and energy on yourself. We recognise that not every parent has access to a partner, family members, or sufficient funds to assist with child rearing. By no means is this blog meant to criticise parents, rather offer a platform of self-awareness to parents regarding self-care, within their means.
As I became more comfortable with the idea of focusing on my wellness and wellbeing, I started to realise the importance of spending time away from my children. Finding a trusted babysitter to spend a night in town, enjoying an old hobby or joining a community group, allowed me to regroup and recognise my old self again. This in turn, also has positive repercussions in becoming a better parent.
Thoughts From ToBeMe
When your little one is born, it doesn’t mean that your life has to end. Instead, make some changes and adjustments to cater to your new lifestyle. Your life doesn’t become less important once you become a parent, if anything you have more of a responsibility to take care of yourself for the benefit of your family. So, go to that circuit training class, continue doing the hobbies you love and grab dinner with those lifelong friends. The best way to take care of your family is to start by taking care of yourself. You and your family deserve the best version of yourself.
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