How to Practice Effective Self-Care

It’s easy when parenting to be controlled by the urgent. Tantruming toddlers, teacher conferences, markers on the wall, mouthy teenagers. It all feels like it needs our attention…pronto!

We figure once we put out the fire, meet our kids’ needs, and correct them until we’re sure they’re not going to jail, THEN we can take care of ourselves. After all, cherish this time with your kids, these years fly by…right?!?!

While the years may be short, the days are long. And if we don’t fill up our own buckets, we may not be around to enjoy the latter years. Okay, that may be a little dramatic. But seriously, have you seen the statistics on what stress does to the body [1]?

If we put our kids first, we end up with a tippy, unstable pyramid that falls apart at any little bump in the road.

Instead, we need to build a solid foundation that starts with ourselves. After all, we can only control ourselves.

Spa days seem to be the first words associated with self-care. Or maybe a lazy day with a good book by the fire.

Often self-care is elusive and feels like one. more. thing. to squeeze in.

I’d argue self-care needs to be our #1 priority as parents. Choose things that leave you feeling energized even if they are harder to start. 

I used to think binge-watching Hallmark was a good self-care option, but while it’s easy to to…mindless even…I don’t always feel like being a better mom when I’m finished.

On the other hand, a brisk walk or 10-minute yoga practice requires a bit more self-discipline on the front end but leaves me feeling like I can conquer the world…or at least be a connected parent.

I talked with Jamie Finn of Foster the Family Blog on the Real Mom Podcast last week about self-care also being about letting go of certain expectations and cultural pressures to be more and do more.

foster care podcast adoptee

One tangible example around this time of year is Christmas cards. I love creating them and receiving them, but doing hard copies this year felt overwhelming. So I compromised with myself and used Paperless Post to create a really fun card I could distribute with a couple clicks rather than sitting for an hour licking envelopes. (You can see the finished product here.)

If you didn’t send Christmas cards, maybe try a New Year’s card or a mid-summer update?

What are the things that energize you?

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