You woke up your kids, fed them a healthy breakfast, wrestled them into clean clothes, strapped them into the car, and dropped them off at school right on time.
You ate half of an Oreo, barely got a shower and were 45 minutes late to work. You're pretty sure you wore that same shirt yesterday and your shoes don't match. You are already exhausted and it's only 9:15 a.m.
Self-care is an overlooked part of parenting. But if a caregiver doesn’t take care of him or herself, taking care of kids will be a struggle, too.
That's why it's important to do things for yourself. And it's important to do these things regularly. You give a lot to your kids, but you need time for you, too. Not only will it help you be a better parent, it will show your kids that it's crucial to care for yourself.
Many caregivers worry about providing the "best" foods to their kids. This means stressing about everything from nutritional content to artificial flavorings. But this concern doesn't always translate to your own diet.
Just like your car, it's important that your body has the right fuel. You need your energy to raise your kids. The right nutrition will improve your health and give you more energy to be active with your kids.
Building a tribe
Being connected to other parents is worth the investment of your time. Being a caregiver can be challenging and lonely and that's why it's important to have people you can rely on and trust.
If that's not enough reason, research shows that parents with a solid tribe of friends or family members are more effective with their own children. So find your tribe to become an even better parent.
You may run after your toddler every day, but parents should also aside additional time to exercise. Exercise helps release endorphins, boosts energy and makes you feel great. It also displays the importance of health to your kids.
So find something you enjoy and can make a part of your routine - go to exercise classes at a local gym, walk or run in your neighborhood, or pop in a workout DVD. And as your kids get older, get them involved - bike riding, shooting hoops or taking a yoga class together.
Doing things you love
Having kids doesn't mean you can no longer do things you loved before. But it may mean that you need to prioritize the things that matter most to you.
So, if you love to garden, paint or build furniture - make time to do those things. If you love to yard sale or hunt - make time to do those things.
And just as important, you don't need permission to stop doing things that you no longer enjoy. Maybe you're tired of a hobby - don't feel pressure to continue if you no longer enjoy something. Your time is precious.
Going on dates
If you are in a relationship, dating your partner keeps that romantic relationship strong. Spending time together - away from the kids - is so important. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, but make time for date nights.
And for single caregivers, dates can also be an important way to do something for you. Try saying "yes" to the next blind date and enjoy a night out without your kids.
Sometimes, you need "you" time. It helps you refuel and recharge. As a parent, alone time is probably infrequent. Kids may even sneak into your bedroom at night or into the bathroom when you need a little privacy.
Maybe it means sneaking away to a movie on your own or spending time reading a book after the kids are in bed. But doing something alone and just for you can help you feel more like yourself.
Being a great parent means more than just doing things for your kids. You need to do things for yourself, too.
Staying healthy, maintaining strong relationships, and being kind to yourself - all are ways to help you become a better person and an even better parent.