Raising children is one of the hardest, yet most rewarding things you’ll do in life. Children thrive when their parents are thriving too, and to do that, you need to look after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. But we know it’s easier said than done and that when you’re focused on looking after babies or children it can be all too easy to neglect these things. But taking care of yourself will allow you to not only feel your best but be your best for your partner and your family.
Here are some simple tips for taking back control of your mental wellbeing:
The three things that will help you feel your best physically and mentally are staying active, nourishing your body and getting enough rest.
Exercise releases feel-good chemicals into the body which make you feel good, lift your mood, increase your energy levels and improve your sleep. A daily walk with your family gets you out of the house and into the fresh air. A change of scenery can do wonders for your mood!
Eating a healthy diet ensures your brain will have the right balance of nutrients to work at its best. It will also improve your energy levels, sleep patterns and general health, leaving you more prepared to handle the challenges of parenthood. Keeping healthy snacks on hand at all times and ordering ready-made healthy meals can help make eating healthy easier when you’re time-poor.
Prioritising sleep isn’t always easy, especially if you have young children. But even a small change like shifting your bedtime forward by an hour or taking a nap when you have a spare few moments could make a big difference to your energy levels and overall health!
Remember that time before you had kids when you could do things like read, go to the gym, take a long shower or even just watch a show that isn’t aimed at 3-year-olds?! When it comes to your mental health, making time for self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact. For example, try a five-minute guided meditation when you wake up, listen to your favourite music or podcast while driving or doing housework, or read 10 pages of a book before going to bed.
There’s no doubt that parenthood can put a strain on a relationship. Spending quality time together often gets pushed way down the list of priorities. To keep a strong, healthy relationship, intentionally schedule time each week to spend together and connect. It might mean organising a babysitter for a date night out or even just a movie night with take out at home!
It can feel incredibly hard to seek help as a parent, with endless stigmas and fear of being judged. But having a support system in place can do wonders for your mental health. Finding people you can rely on for both practical and emotional support is incredibly important. Talking to friends and family members about problems can offer new perspectives on some of your challenges, while also helping you feel less isolated. Reaching out for practical help (such as with babysitting, grocery shopping or food preparation) can also help you immensely in times when you are feeling overwhelmed. You may also find it helpful to join a parenting support group to meet and interact with other parents going through similar experiences.
Being a parent is a tough job and sometimes it can feel as if everyone else is finding it so much easier than you are. But here’s the thing: they’re not. We all handle situations differently as parents, and comparing yourself to others really doesn't help. Your journey is unique to you, so have compassion for yourself. On difficult days, acknowledge that you’re having a hard time and lower your expectations of yourself. Give yourself permission to skip the chores, increase your child’s screen time or order takeout. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can!
Prioritising your mental wellbeing to ensure you’re thriving as an individual is not selfish, but entirely necessary for being an effective parent and dealing better with challenging and tricky parenting moments. If you do find yourself struggling to cope mentally - reach out for help.
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