By Angela Dube, LMFT
I’m just going to say it: Parenting is HARD. Probably the hardest thing we do in our lives. I know, you knew that already. Honestly, did any of us really know exactly what we were getting ourselves into? Between tantrums about brushing teeth, juggling schedules, power struggles over snacks, and trying to get kids to go to bed, what room is left for relaxing? Playing? Enjoying our children? And then there’s everything on social media, friends, and family telling us how things “should” be and what we “should” do. It’s hard to figure out exactly what is important to us and how we want to parent when there’s so much noise.
I have a secret for you: when we’re happy, relaxed, and our needs are taken care of, we’re better parents. MUCH better parents.
You’ve probably heard this part before: you need to put on your own oxygen mask first. It’s amazing how difficult this can be when you have small children begging you for a snack. But really, what is it that you need to be your best self? For me, it’s going to bed early, having to-do lists, keeping my calendar up to date and organized, a clean(ish) house, and a yoga practice. It’s saying no because I know I need to have time alone or to get some sleep. It’s deciding to say yes despite knowing that I need sleep, because I need a break from my responsibilities to go have some fun. It changes day to day.
What self-care unfortunately isn’t: hours soaking in a glorious bubble bath, going on a two-week yoga retreat in Costa Rica without your kids and partner (can you tell I really want this one?), or escaping reality through TV, alcohol, or drugs to the point of avoidance.
What does self-care mean for you?
One important part of self-care is making decisions for yourself about what kind of parent you want to be. We all were raised in homes where we liked certain things about how we were parented and disliked other things. We are all exposed to thousands of images and messages a day on social media telling us what we should be doing or how our families should look. We all have that one (or more) highly opinionated friend. But what do you want? What are your values? How do you want to parent? Reflecting on this can take time and work.
Finally, therapy for yourself can be an excellent form of self-care. I know, it’s hard to fit it in when there’s a never-ending to-do list, but seriously, it can make a huge difference. It’s a peaceful space, where we can slow down, breathe, and piece out what is most important. It is a place where we can reflect on our own childhoods and the messages we receive from society and make decisions for ourselves about our own values and priorities. It’s meeting with someone who is objective yet supportive and isn’t invested in a specific outcome.
And what’s more? You deserve to feel good. You deserve it and your kids deserve to have healthy, happy parents.
So, what is it that you need to be your best self?
Angela Dube is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Child & Family Counseling Group. She sees parents, teens, and children. Angela has a background of working with children and families of a many backgrounds. She uses a family systems approach to therapy with skills from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Angela is trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI). Her specialties include parent coaching, anxiety, stress, perfectionism, depression, trauma, and intergenerational trauma. You can learn more about Angela and the other therapists at Child & Family Counseling Group on their website: www.childfamilygroup.com