Although parenting is rewarding, it can also be very demanding and it's easy to forget about your own needs when caring for another's. But nourishing your mind, body and soul with replenishing practices is not indulgent. It’s a fundamental part of a balanced life.
As parents, we have a responsibility to look after our health and wellbeing not just for our own benefit, but as a positive example for our children. Role-modelling self care can teach children how to be more resilient and compassionate in their own lives.
Recognising the benefits of simple activities like walking, gardening and pampering can be a great first step.
What is self-care?
Self-care can mean different things to different people at different times. For some the focus may be emotional, for many, it will be physical, and for others it may be spiritual.
When you're a parent your emotional wellbeing can become vulnerable as your time is so invested in the wellbeing of another. It's important not to overlook your own needs. Emotional wellbeing tends to suffer most when behaviours are not consistent with values. Your values are unique to you, so taking time to think about what really matters to you can inform your self-care practice and help you make the most of the time you have available.
For example, if physical activity is something you really value, and you've found that since becoming a parent you've stopped going to the gym and gained weight, then your behaviours are out of line with your values, and you’re likely to feel low and resentful. Taking time to review your values and define the practices that could nurture them within your new circumstances can help focus your efforts.
Fitting in exercise
Research on the benefits of exercise and activity is compelling: if exercise was prescribed like a drug, it would be extolled as a miracle cure, but it can be difficult to find time to fit it in.
It’s currently recommended that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week in order to see health benefits, but there is growing evidence to show that three 30-minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions, including at least 10 minutes of high-intensity activity, could be as good as exercising at a moderate level for 150 minutes per week.
From simple stretching to swimming to going for a run to burn off stress, discovering and participating in the form of exercise that works for you can be as pampering as a trip to the spa. As long as you find something you enjoy doing, your motivation and enjoyment will stay high.
If you’re craving to get in the gym, but don’t know what to do with your little ones, find out whether your nearest gym has creche facilities, so you can enjoy a workout with peace of mind. If you’d rather do exercise that includes your kids, discover 5 family-friendly ways to exercise.
It’s no surprise that looking after your appearance can help your self-esteem. Treating your body with respect can be as simple as booking an instant tan — for all the feel-good factor of glowing skin without the dangers of sun-exposure. Likewise, indulging in a manicure can help you feel better about the effects of hormonal changes on your nails. Speak to our trained Beauty Therapists about treatments that will help you look and feel your best.
Did you know massage has been clinically proven to boost the immune system, improve sleep, reduce pain, inflammation, and the symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression? If you’re feeling exhausted by the physical demands of parenthood, massage is a powerful way to relax and reclaim your body.
Making self-care happen
The pressures and demands of parenthood can limit even the best intentions, but having a flexible approach to self-care can help. Self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming, expensive or complicated. Research shows that taking time to notice and relish even small pleasures can improve wellbeing.
But if stopping to sip your coffee rather than gulping it down isn’t cutting it, why not investigate child-care options? From babies and toddlers to tweens and teens, our excellent crèche and junior-friendly facilities offer a wide range of fun activities for children of all ages. And remember, by looking after yourself, you’re setting an excellent example to your children too.
Last updated Tuesday 7 June 2022
First published on Wednesday 27 February 2019