Self-care practices are crucial for maintaining our mental wellness. When we have kids struggling with challenging issues, like running away from home, going in and out of psychiatric units, dealing with addiction, self-injurious behaviors, or other problems, we might neglect our own needs for self-care. When we become overwhelmed with crisis after crisis with our kids, we can start to feel rundown and exhausted. As our health and wellness suffer, we might not be as present for our kids as we would like to be.
Self-care is not about being selfish or neglecting our responsibilities to our families. When we take time for self-care, we are:
- Setting boundaries
- Acknowledging that we need a break
- Role-modeling for our kids
- Fostering unconditional love for ourselves
- Ensuring that we can be at our best when our family needs us most
What is Self-Care?
Self-care can be considered any activity that re-fuels our tank. Anything that we do for the sole benefit of feeling good about ourselves that does not leave us feeling drained. For some, self-care is about engaging in holistic activities, like yoga or mindfulness. Others engage in hobbies, like car maintenance, writing, reading, or puzzles. Some people exercise, go for a hike, or spend time with their family pets. Feeling distracted or even guilty about not fulfilling an obligation, many people do not prioritize these activities or do not fully immerse themselves “in the moment.”
Why is Self-Care Important?
With all of the issues that parents face when they have a child struggling at home, they might put their own needs last. When we neglect our needs, we are setting ourselves—and our families—up for failure. Every person has a breaking point. Without caring for our own wellness needs, we might be able to handle things today, but as the days wear on, our burden continues to grow until we can no longer manage our health. If we get to this point, we will not be able to help those around us.
We all have busy schedules—raising our kids, going to work, maintaining our homes, and fulfilling other obligations. We might not have time to sit down and do anything we enjoy without distractions. When kids are going through challenges, we might be on-guard at all times, waiting for the next crisis to occur. Even if we do have a few minutes to ourselves during the day, how can we relax, anticipating trouble on the horizon?
When we are distracted by the world around us or by challenges at home, we might have lost the ability to truly engage in the moment and lose ourselves in self-care activities. When was the last time we were free from any distraction or worry? Even when we have time to ourselves, we might need to practice letting go. Practicing self-care means giving yourself permission to make yourself a priority and tend to your own needs.
If We Don’t Make Time, It Won’t Happen!
Often, we may shrug off self-care, saying, “we’ll get to these things when we have the time.” Being too busy is an excuse that many use and self-care becomes the last thing on our list of priorities. We have work deadlines, family obligations, chores, or other more important things. When we put all of these things ahead of ourselves, we unintentionally say that our own needs are not important. We are putting our mental wellness and clarity in the backseat of our lives.
We need to make time for self-care as no one will make this time for us. While our lives are busy, we can see its value when we start to prioritize our self-care. (Hence, why we practice self-care—we won’t notice how important it is right away!). As with any new practice, we can:
- Start small!
- Find five minutes for ourselves to do something we enjoy—a walk around the block, listening to our favorite song, deep breathing, playing a game, or journaling.
- Most people can find just five minutes a day. However, once we notice how much clarity self-care brings to our lives, we might realize we waste more time fighting ourselves when we don’t engage in self-care.
- Unplug and Minimize Distractions
- Turn off notifications for work emails, silence the phone, minimize all external distractions.
- Tell others that we need the next five minutes for ourselves.
- Let our parenting partners know that we are taking some time for ourselves.
When you make time for self-care, you set boundaries with others and rely on others to give you time. Remember to encourage your parenting partner to also care for themselves and take turns managing the household while you and your partner care for yourselves.
Self-care is essential for our mental health and wellness. Many of us do not take time for ourselves due to fulfilling obligations to others. We neglect our own needs and wants, saying, “I just don’t have time for that.” However, when we continually put our mental health on the back burner, we can run ourselves ragged and eventually burn-out. When we get so overwhelmed running around dealing with other issues that we reach our breaking points, we are no longer able to best support our loved ones during their times of need. If you are the parent of a child dealing with struggles like depression, anxiety, addiction, cutting, or other challenging behaviors, residential treatment might be the next step for your child. If the chaos in your home is unmanageable, now might be the time to reach out for help. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Estes Park, Colorado, is here for you. Call today at (303) 443-3343.