Self-Care is Non-Negotiable

I have said it before and I'll say it 1000 more times. If you are a parent you NEED to be selfish. Your life, your children's future, and your future relationship with your children depend on it.

It might seem like I am being a little dramatic but I really want you to hear me. My hope is that by reading this you to stop feeling any guilt, shame, or fear around making your needs a top priority.

There is no hard rule for how much self-care time we each require because every parent has different needs and so does every child. My general base line recommendation is 20-30 minutes daily engaged in an activity that brings joy or health to your life. Just because something is a priority doesn't mean that you devote the most time to it, it just means that it's one of the first things you put into your schedule. The amount you choose will also change as the needs of your family change.

What might happen if you don't take make your self-care a priority?

You might yell at your children and have less patience to deal their frustrating behaviors.

Often tantrums are due to their still developing brains and a lack of integration between the four chambers inside. The way to help our child's mind to become more integrated is to remain calm ourselves. We are less likely to have this skill when we are ourselves are stressed or run down. If you find that even when you are fully rested and recharged that you still find yourself angry or anxious please reach out for extra support. It's possible that your brain might need some exercises for better integration. I highly recommend Dan Siegel's book, The Whole Brain Child. Buy it Here

You may experience health issues or get so sick that you are forced to take a break.

Wouldn't you like to be in control of your physical well-being? Of course we are never completely in charge of when we get sick but the wonderful thing that we have learned over the years is that many illnesses can be prevented by adjusting our diet and lifestyle. As an added bonus the more healthy you get the healthier your child will become; either because you are modeling the behaviors for them or because there is more access to healthy food or more physical activity.

{Human Design Sidenote} If you know you are a manifestor, projector, or reflector YOU do not have consistent energy to work (aka parent) without taking a break. It's essential for your long term health and wellness that you get adequate sleep and downtime to rest; preferably alone.

You could resent your children for "taking" from you or your partner for not doing enough.

Let's be clear. It's your child's job to need you, especially when they are little. It's not their job or responsibility to tell you to take care of yourself. It is up to YOU to decide how you let others treat you and unfortunately most people will take from you until you say, "I've had enough!" Don't blame others for not allowing you the time and space for self-care. This is a disempowering place because we are relying on someone else changing to get what we need. The reality is that we can only change ourselves. Get very clear about what amount of time and the activities are going to bring the most benefit to your life. Once you have clarity schedule a conversation with your tribe regarding the importance of me time and tell them your plan.

Personally I find that a lunch with girlfriends, working on and in my business, and writing to be great ways to recharge when I'm feeling depleted from being a caregiver.

Your children might grow up with the belief that the world revolves around their wants and desires.

Do you know any young people who are entitled, spoiled and who believe the rules don't apply to them? Now please don't think I am blaming you if your child behaves this way; I know you are doing your best. I also know that underneath these behaviors is a wonderful human who just needs a little redirection.

If you notice these behaviors in your child already what I might suggest is 1) make sure you are teaching them to take care of their own age appropriate needs then allowing natural consequences to happen. Let them make their own doctor's appointments then pay if they miss the appointment. Let them clean their own room and do laundry and deal with the repercussions (aka no clean underwear) if they don't do it. Give them a set allowance and let them stay home or do something to earn money if they run out. 2) Help them find a way that they can be of service to someone who is less fortunate. This will give them an experience of gratitude for what they have been given. 3) Make sure you are taking time for yourself even if it means that on occasion you can't give them a ride to their friends house.

If your child is young 1) make sure you are not over protecting and doing things they could do for themselves like cleaning up after themselves, putting clothes in the hamper, putting dishes in the sink or feeding the dog. 2) Make sure you are taking time for yourself even if they cry when you leave.

{Human Design Sidenote} If you have an open emotional center/solar plexus, which is the triangle on the lower right side of the chart and it will be white; it might be more challenging not to meet the needs of others because it feels really terrible to experience another's emotions. The question you might ask yourself is am I choosing this behavior to avoid conflict and to be nice?

When your children get married & have kids of their own they believe that part of being a good parent (partner) is putting everyone else first, thus continuing the cycle.

Let's face it how we parent is often a lot like how we were parented. It's in our cellular memory and most times we aren't even conscious that we have taken on their behaviors. Of course once we become aware of actions we don't like we can make a choice to behave differently but it's not easy. Our brain relies on habits to conserve energy so making a new one takes a considerable amount of awareness, energy and consistent focus on what you want instead. Remember this as your little ones are growing up. Consider what parenting traits you want to pass on to future generations in your family. Remembering that the choices that you make today can have multi-generational impact.

{Journal Prompt} Why do you think it would be important to put your needs first? What behaviors/actions would be really recharging for you? What would the benefits be for you and your family? What is one thing you are going to schedule and make a priority this week around your self-care?

Jennifer Bronsnick, MSW, LCSW is passionate about supporting moms to be resilient. As a mother of three daughters under 8 and a survivor of postpartum depression and anxiety Jennifer knows exactly how challenging motherhood can be. She also knows that there is hope for all of us and with accurate information, support and inspiration that mothers and families can thrive.

Jennifer’s years of clinical experience as a social worker and her own personal journey gives her the unique ability to guide other moms on their path to health and wellness. You can also learn more about Jennifer, the services she offers and purchase her books on maternal self-care at www.themindfulfamily.com/jennifer.