Being a parent is the greatest blessing. It comes with many joys. Together with the joy, however, there may be an incredible amount of responsibility that you may feel. With this responsibility comes the increase in mental load. Constant questions arise: what is best for your child to eat, what are the best schools, nanny versus crèche, at what age should you send your child to crèche, etc. etc. The list goes on.
Since you might be caught up in the many blessings and joys of being a parent, you might be overlooking your need for self-care due to the increase in responsibility and therefore an increased mental load. You may also feel guilty for having ‘negative’ feelings related to your child. Research suggests that the mental load is felt more by mothers than fathers.
Are you doing enough to help yourself cope with the mental load?
For most parents, your children will always come first. In a holistic sense, prioritising your children should mean that you are prioritizing yourself too. Your children deserve a fully available, fully present parent. This entails taking care of yourself to re-energize yourself regularly, so you can be more physically and emotionally available to your children.
- Exercise when and how you can. Move away from the ideal of going to gym or having a set amount of time to exercise, if this is not doable. Think creatively about how you can add exercise into your day: Take a walk, do an exercise routine at home or ride a bike with your children. You will most likely have loads of fun and you will also be encouraging your children to exercise too.
- Schedule quiet time in your day. This can be tiny bits of time, if more is not possible. Quiet time allows you to go through your day’s events, process it, quiet your mind so that you are able to shut down at bed time and then regroup for the next day.
- Give thanks to yourself. No matter how good or bad a parent you think you have been, remember that you are doing your best and that you will keep trying to do better. Find small moments in the day to tap yourself on your shoulder (both literally and figuratively) and tell yourself that you are doing a good job.
- Remind yourself that you are not alone. Every parent around you at any given moment has fears and concerns about their parenting too. Knowing that you are not alone helps you to cope better.
- Lastly, engage in self-care activities as often as possible. From small gestures of kindness to yourself, to bigger self-care activities, always be mindful about doing these and of their importance.