Self-Care for Busy Parents

Let’s face it: In general, you are probably more concerned with your child’s well-being than your own.

That’s natural, but it can also lead to burnout — fast. But no matter how busy you might be, taking care of yourself — mind, body and spirit — is essential to being the best parent you can be.  

Keep reading to find ideas for big and small things that you can incorporate into your life that will recharge you, lower your stress (even if just for a few minutes) and help you to become a healthier and calmer parent. 

If you have less than 5 minutes 

Practice Meditation 

The Mayo Clinic reports that practicing meditation, even if only for a few minutes, can provide emotional and physical benefits. Some of the benefits may include reducing anxiety, building skills to manage stress and gaining new perspective on stressful situations.

There are many ways to practice mediation. It can sound like repeating a mantra (a word or phrase that is important or motivating) or look like a prayer (the oldest form of meditation). There are many video guides to five-minute meditations available for free online. Headspace is a popular meditation website and app, which offers many five- to 20-minute guided meditations. The meditations are categorized by situation and need. 

If you have 20 minutes or more

Start a Gratitude Journal 

Gratitude isn’t a new concept, but many wellness blogs and magazines have recently begun touting the exercise of listing what we are grateful for as an exercise in well-being. Studies have found that keeping a gratitude journal can improve sleep, lower stress and bolster interpersonal relationships. 

There are many journals made especially for finding opportunities of gratitude available at brick-and-mortar and online bookstores. The One-Minute Gratitude Journal by Brenda Nathan is a bestseller currently. The layout is simple and consistent: date with space to write three to four “things” that the writer is grateful for, plus pages for drawings 

If an app is more your style, Gratitude is a free one. It’s available to Android and IOS users. The app will send you a morning text asking what you are grateful for, then when you respond, your response is sent directly to your online journal. You can even snap a picture to go along with it.  

If you have less than an hour

Find a Yoga or Exercise Class 

When you exercise, you are setting aside time to focus on yourself. “It might only be 30 minutes a day, but that ‘me’ time is so important,” says Debra Sexton, owner of FIT4MOM in Carmel. “Not only are you creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself, but your endorphins will be flowing. You will feel happier and more energized.” 

Besides providing the opportunity to exercise one’s strength, flexibility and balance, yoga offers an avenue to practice mindfulness. 

“Yoga helps reduce stress in a number of ways — namely, mental health and well-being, positive self-image, strength, focus and balance, as well as cardiovascular health,” says Sky Andrews, owner and founder of Sol Hot Yoga Studio in Carmel. We say it’s a way to, ‘Still the mind, rejuvenate your body, and cultivate your soul.’” 

If you have a few hours…

Join a Book Club 

A book club can be a meaningful, extended way to take time for yourself. Not only are you able to explore new genres and books, but every few weeks you get to spend time with a community connecting over reading. 

“Being a part of a monthly book club has made me a better parent in two noticeable ways,” says Angela Hildebrand, mom of two and resident of Carmel. “It allows me to create time for myself where I get to read for fun while enjoying the company of fabulous women. And two, it provides me with an opportunity to model reading for pleasure in front of my two boys.” 

Many libraries and bookstores offer book clubs to their patrons. There are also a number of virtual book clubs that can be found on websites such as Goodreads and Facebook. 

It is easy to lose yourself in the endless cycle of school projects, carpooling, sports practices, laundry, meal planning and everyday life. Even spending as little as five minutes per day taking care of yourself can improve your mental and physical well-being.

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