Self-care for Parents…it’s a Real Thing!
The last time I went with my step-son and his mother to his doctor appointment, his doctor asked what he does for fun after school. She asked if he plays video games or sports.
He told her that he likes to play video games with his brother and she then asked what kind “do you play Xbox?” she asked. He then looked directly at me, gave a wide grin and stated “No! I do not play Xbox, Ana plays Xbox. I am not allowed to touch it!” His doctor smiled, laughed, and said… “that…is…awesome.”
My initial reaction in that moment was to defend myself stating that he has a Nintendo and a tablet and other things to play with etc. but you know what? I am proud the Xbox is mine!
It’s a small boundary that I have and have been able to maintain while running a 6 person household 2-5 days a week…not that the job is every really done. There is never really off time whether you are a parent or step-parent. There are doctor visits, school conferences, practices, and the constant maintenance of “routine and consistency”.
I have worked with so many parents who consider self-care to be showering once a week or the occasional date night every other month, but I challenge them to think bigger…by thinking smaller. Self-Care does not have to be some big glorious excursion, it can be 10 minutes of journaling, 30 minutes of cardio (I know that’s a tough one), 5 minutes of complete silence after bedtime, or even 20 minutes playing a game on the Xbox.
Self-care for parents is about being realistic, setting realistic goals for yourself daily. I ask my clients to try to map out 10 minutes a day that they can dedicate to self-care for mind or body (both if they are ambitious). The secret is to be genuinely real about it, set realistic expectations based on your family and schedule.
Remind yourself that it is ok to set boundaries with your family and keep some things for yourself whether it be an Xbox One or the candy bar you keep hidden in the vegetable drawer. Allow yourself those few guilt free minutes of clarity daily, it’ll do wonders in the long run!