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Practicing Self-Care That Benefits the Whole Family


Why Meeting Your Needs is Important for Everyone!


With the new school year upon us, we are all entering an incredibly exciting, busy, and sometimes overwhelming season. As parents, we tend to abandon our self-care needs, with our kids returning to school, homework, sports, friends, and other extracurricular activities. It makes sense! When life is busy and time is stretched thin, we may feel guilt for dedicating time for ourselves and end up putting our needs on the back burner. But there is a cost to our self-sacrifice. As Elaine Taylor-Klaus, co-founder of Impact Parents, puts it, like a continuously stretched rubber band, at some point, we will snap!


When you (parents) take time to engage in self-care practices, you…

  • Allow yourself the space and energy to be there for those around you

  • Improve the quality of your life and relationships by prioritizing stress management

  • Transmit calm to those around you- just like stress is contagious, calm is also contagious!

  • Model how to care for and meet one's needs appropriately so your kids learn to do the same

In addition, kids see what you feel, even when you think you're hiding your feelings well. Mirror neurons, the brain cells that allow us to learn by observing others, catalyze children to mirror our same feelings and behavior. For example, your child will unconsciously mirror your feelings if you're stressed or frustrated. Our emotions are contagious! If you feel you're in a constant state of worry and stress, your child may, unfortunately, feel the same. Suppose a child lives in continual fear, anxiety, and worry. In that case, the emotional part of their brain gets larger and adapts, and with time it becomes the new normal and resculpts their brain!


But the good news is that you show up differently for your kids when you meet your needs.


You're able to

  • Feel calmer and handle whatever is happening a bit better

  • Be more present

  • Have more patience

  • Model how to handle life's stressors.

Self-care does not need to entail taking an entire day off from life's responsibilities (although those days are sometimes needed, too!). It's essential to balance life and take care of yourself by recharging your battery! Spending just 5-minutes out of the day can be enough. You are worth 5 minutes! Think about what refuels you! Go back to your old days - what put a smile on your face?


Here are a few examples of simple, daily self-care practices:

  • Exercise: group exercise or an exercise buddy can help you with staying committed

  • Sleep: start small–even just adding 10 minutes of sleep daily helps!

  • Meditation: unsure of how to start? Put on some relaxing music, set a timer, and focus on deep breaths for just a few minutes out of your day.

  • Unplug from phone/emails/tablets/etc.

  • Read a book you enjoy

  • Call a friend to check in.

  • Therapy: prioritize this in your schedule or join a virtual support group

  • Get outside: fresh air and even just LOOKING at nature have proven to lower heart rate, lessen stress, and provide a reset.

  • Care for yourself like you would a friend: drink your tea, light that candle you've been saving, and soak in the tub--you deserve pampering too!

  • Schedule quality time with someone you love and enjoy being with

  • Say no to more things: setting boundaries with friends, family, work, and other obligations is healthy and needed for making the most of self-care!


Whether it's your home or classroom, modeling self-care for those around you is a beautiful act of love for everyone. Understanding your needs, vocalizing them, and taking action to meet them will also help kids become aware of theirs. Self-awareness and advocacy will give you and your kids the recharge needed to put the pedal to the metal this school year! You've got this!


If you'd like to read more about how to give your child more control over their life, check out this book! Also, make sure you are following us on Instagram to get the latest educational tips, tricks, encouragement, resources, and support!

Written by Jenny Aguilar (M. Ed., ET/P) and Geneva Walsh (M. Ed.)

Resources:

The Self-Driven Child

BMC Medical Education

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