Single Parenthood and the Importance of Self-Care
As a single parent, you are likely giving everything to your kids. Your time, your money, and your energy is devoted to your children, the way any parent’s is. However, unlike two-parent households, it becomes much more difficult to find time to yourself.
While taking time for yourself can feel selfish as a single parent, remember that taking care of yourself is necessary so that you can be at your best for your kids. Here are a few good reasons to take time for yourself.
Excess Stress Can Cause Many Health Issues
Stress is a part of being a parent. In fact, it’s just part of being a person. However, excess stress, built up with no relaxation or stress reduction can be very harmful to you and, by extension, your kids. When you don’t have a way to reduce your stress, your immune system suffers which then opens up your entire family to illness. You will also experience irritability, possible snapping at your children and placing a strain on the parent-child bond.
To limit your stress, you may want to schedule time for relaxation. Some potential options to shed the stress of the day might be meditation, yoga, a spa day, reading a good book, or even coloring with your kids. Find something that works for you. Let your kids know that they need to play on their own for a few minutes while you unwind. If they are too young to be left alone, include them. Kids’ yoga videos are a great way for the whole family to bond, reduce stress, and feel better.
There is Potential for Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Many people do not know how to cope in a healthy way when faced with difficulty. Parents tend to deal with strings of stressful and upsetting events, meaning it is critical that they know how to cope and know how to take time to unwind. Some common unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol or drug abuse very commonly lead to addiction. Not only will addiction make your life more difficult but kids who grow up with addicted parents are more likely to fall into bad habits as well.
To avoid substance abuse as a coping tactic, it becomes critical that you spend time tending to your own needs. If you simply devote every aspect of your life to your kids, you will become drained, and you will need a crutch to keep you going. Instead, practice stress reducing activities and plan some time away from the home when possible.
Your Kids Need You at Your Best
If you are exhausted, stressed, and unhappy, your kids will be the ones who suffer. As selfish as it may feel to leave your kids for a spa day, keep in mind that your kids would rather have you gone for a few hours and be happy than stay at home and be irritable. A tired, drained parent is also not as quick to respond as a relaxed, well-rested parent. If something were to go wrong, you need to be sharp and ready to act rather than foggy. Parenting is a difficult job and like any difficult job, you must be healthy and well-rested to perform your duties well.
Be sure you sleep well, you eat well, and you find time to do exercise even if that exercise is a session of kids’ yoga. Your health directly affects your kids and taking care of that health is anything but selfish.
Self-care is a critical aspect of parenting, particularly when you are a single parent. Taking time for yourself is not an option, it is a necessity. While your kids are important, you must keep in mind that you are important too. Your personal wellness is something your kids need you to look after. So hire a babysitter once in awhile.
Tell your kids that 6pm-7pm is quiet time so that you can meditate, do yoga, or just relax with a book. Schedule time for yourself. Your kids will be grateful when you come back refreshed and ready to play.
Sarah Lockwood is a concerned parent and former social worker. Having worked with the public for decades and after watching her own daughter struggle with addiction, Sarah knows all too well the devastation that can be caused by drug and alcohol abuse. Sarah’s daughter is now in recovery, but her experiences with substance abuse inspired Sarah to get involved with ThePreventionCoalition.org. She plans to spread awareness and support through her work for others dealing with addiction. While Sarah devotes a lot of time to the Coalition, she makes sure to relax and enjoy the small things in life, as every day is a gift.
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