Dear mothers and fathers of the world (and everyone else too),
It’s hard being a parent, huh?
I will never say it’s easy. Even though my daughter is the greatest joy of my life, that doesn’t mean it’s always fun to care for her—and yes, it’s okay to say that out loud!
I’ll be honest here. As the mother of an eight-year-old girl, I have—at times—wanted to hide in a hole, in grief and fear of this crazy world that she is growing up in. In panic of how I could possibly raise her “right” and do a “good job.”
I know that moms and dads can feel the weight of the world on their shoulders at times—the weight of feeling like it’s up to us to make sure that the small human who came out of our bodies grows into a respectable, respectful, kind, intelligent, healthy, whole adult.
But heck, that’s a lot of pressure, isn’t it?
And, you know what? If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s actually not all under our control in reality, is it?
The reality is, we have these children for several years under our care—to nurture, love, teach, feed, encourage, and dote on—and, then, they generally leave us.
As they grow they will also be influenced by an entire planet around them—by other kids, teachers, classmates, media, and the world at large. We hope with all of our strength that we’ve taught them something good, that we’ve done something right, that they will be upright citizens who help others, who perhaps care about things besides themselves, who eat their greens…but if every parent did their best, then why are there so many humans on this planet who aren’t caring for themselves, others, or the Earth well?
Why is there so much selfishness, greed, low self-esteem, insecurity, unkindness, murder, and war? Is it because all of those moms did a horrible job?
I think most certainly not!
Perhaps some parents haven’t been there for their kids as positive role models or as teachers, or don’t have time to spend with them reading, playing, and doting—but, when it comes down to it, our kids have to choose who they want to be despite how good or bad a “job” we do raising them.
In every single decision I’ve made in life, I have surely not considered how my parents raised me. I’ve chosen things on my own, and made my own path in this world. But yes, sometimes that little voice inside my head sounds a lot like my mom or dad, and that has helped me through a lot in my life and through many difficult decisions.
So as much as I can, I will try to remember that my child may one day have a little voice like that in her mind as well. I truly hope that the voice isn’t always, “No, no, no, don’t do that! Don’t eat that! Stop making noise! What a mess!”
I hope she mostly remembers the, “Yes,” the fun we had together, the tickles, the cuddles, the admonition to drink lots of water when you wake up, and take care of yourself the best you can. Love yourself well. Be mindful and thoughtful of how you treat yourself and those around you. These are my greatest words of advice to her—to anyone, I suppose.
And if your mom wasn’t able to tell you, then I’ll tell you now: Love yourself! Care for yourself, because all the rest springs out from that and it’ll help you to love others better, too.
Here are my favorite ways to focus on self-care, which, in turn, rejuvenates me in order to be of greater service to family and friends:
1. Dance out the stress.
Anytime I get the chance, I dance! It helps to shake out daily tension, halt overthinking, loosen up, and get blood moving, allowing deep breathing and release. It allows for a feeling of childlike, carefree openness. My daughter also loves to do silly dances with me, so it’s fun bonding time as well.
2. Stay hydrated.
I love drinking water and herbal (caffeine-free) tea with nutritional benefits. It keeps the brain awake, boosts energy, immunity, and digestive function. I’ve taught my child to always keep water at her bedside so that she remembers to drink upon waking as the body needs hydration after hours of sleep and lack of water. Remember, we are made of water and born from water!
3. Write or draw.
Each morning I practice writing or drawing for a bit. Even if it’s just a quick doodle, gratitude list, poem, or stream of consciousness, it’s worth taking a moment to jot it down as the physical act of handwriting is good for the memory and it also allows me to release any thoughts or worries about the day ahead. It also helps to boost creative flow and problem-solving throughout the day. Seeing everything on paper helps to connect to a greater sense of where our inner emotions lay and to be more in tune throughout the day.
Gratitude lists are a life-changer! Write five things a day that you are thankful for and you will see more clearly the abundance that is already present in your life. Having struggled for many years with depression and anxiety, writing is a huge outlet for me for releasing grief and fears. I think it also reconnects me to my inner child, which longs for playful, creative expression, revealed visibly on paper.
4. Hug and cuddle.
Holding my loved ones, for at least 20 seconds (much longer usually) every morning, smelling their scents, taking them into my arms, feeling their heartbeats, skin, and breath commingle with mine, is a great way to express engaged presence and to also heal our minds or any feelings of loneliness or disconnection that are so prevalent in our world. The gift of touch is healing, boosts immunity, relieves stress, and creates deeper bonds, and sense of belonging.
5. Eat nutritious food.
Whole fruits and vegetables, smoothies, and fresh juices are great energy boosters and hormone balancers, helping us to feel our best with their dense nutritional benefits like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and digestive enzymes, which aid in immune function and gut health. The healthier my body is, the better I can take care of my child—and the more we can dance!
6. Take time to read books.
Reading is a form of self-care because it can get us out of our heads and racing thoughts. It can open up new perspectives and a different worldview, allowing for a brief respite from our constant doing and moving and creating space for us to breathe slowly and sit quietly. Often, flipping through lots of articles, news, and online content may replace books and we forget how great it feels to just sit with a good book—like when we were kids, without the constant barrage of media, flashing advertisements, or quick, passing images of other peoples’ lives.
Books are a window into a writer’s being and a mindful way of slowing down.
What are your favorite ways to practice self-care, either as a parent or not?
Author: Tina Picz Devoe
Image: Author’s Own; Unsplash
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen