I’m always surprised by how many parents feel guilty any time they do something for themselves. This guilt creates a self-care deficit that robs parents of vital energy and patience. Ironically, energy and patience are two of the most important things for giving our children what they need. It is easier to have patience and energy when our own needs are being met. When our needs are met, we are better parents. We all know this. So, how do we practice it? Well, the first step is acknowledging how exhausting parenting is.
Give yourself permission to be tired, then give yourself permission to sleep. Most parents are operating with a massive sleep debt, and whatever you are doing instead of sleeping can be done more efficiently after you sleep. This is something we all know but struggle to apply. It may be because a good night’s sleep is hard to guarantee. A lot of parents find that an herbal supplement such as melatonin twice a week works wonders for improving sleep quality and raising energy. Once good sleep can be had, everything else becomes a bit more manageable.
After the sleep debt is paid, it’s time to tackle the self-fulfillment debt. Start by asking “what are we doing to celebrate who we are beyond husband, wife, mother, father?” It is essential that we celebrate ourselves because that celebration will spill over into our time with our children. It makes sense that if we are looking for ways to celebrate ourselves, we will naturally encounter ways to celebrate others. Celebrating ourselves creates reservoirs of positive feelings and patience. Finding an activity that enriches who we are brings out our best. Everyone deserves to know their worth and feel intrinsic value that is unique to them. Cultivating and promoting a sense of self-worth at the individual level is life changing, not just for us but also for our children.
As we create positive self-worth, we become happier. This happiness is contagious. The joy of knowing that there is more to life than husband, wife, mother, father benefits everyone. Being a person first and then all of our other roles teaches our children the importance of being our own true north. Grounding ourselves in happiness and confidence generates a profound and durable sense of wellbeing. When we feel solid, our children are secure. Knowing that we are doing what we are meant to be and having a purpose is a gift not only to our children but also to the world. It is my belief that world is a better pace when we are happy and fulfilled.
Fulfillment can feel like a selfish endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. We can seek out fulfillment through enlightened self-interest. Take sleep as an example. Sleeping the amount your personal circadian rhythm seeks ensures you will be well rested and have more energy, patience, and focus. This important act of self-care improves your ability to care for others. Finding the mental and emotional space to figure out what gives you a sense of purpose and pursuing it will give you more energy, patience, and focus when spending time with your children. It will improve your ability to act in caring ways. Self-care and the ability to care for others are linked. The better care we take of ourselves, the better we are able to take care of others.
Kisstopher is an American psychologist who has been helping individuals, couples, and families have more good days than bad for over 20 years. In 2009, Kisstopher opened Adjustment Guidance, a mental health and wellbeing therapy practice located in Nagoya city, just 5 minutes from Ozone station. Kisstopher sees clients Tuesday through Saturday between 9am and 8pm.
All communications are confidential. Your first appointment will be free. Memberships: American Psychological Association, Japanese Psychological Association, American Chamber of Commerce in Japan