Parent Self-Care 101: Trust me, your kids will thank you

Written by: Kate Hill

Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart: it requires a high demand on time, energy, and attention in caring for the kids and the family. Unfortunately, this usually means that parents’ own needs will take a backseat and are quite often neglected. When parents stop caring for themselves, stress can cause disastrous consequences on their health and can eventually affect relationships with their children and partners.

Beating stress and caring for yourself might simply feel just like another thing to cross off an endless “to-do” list as a parent, but the important thing to remember is that self-care doesn’t require a big-time commitment. Start by adding 5 minutes of self-care to your day, wherever it fits best in your schedule.

The best parenting advice is to take care of yourself—self-care ensures that we can conquer all the challenges of parenting wholeheartedly, and in the process model the importance of caring for ourselves to our children.

Here are 30 ideas of how you can incorporate self-care into your life as a busy parent:

  1. Spend 5 minutes stretching after you wake up.
  2. Enjoy a special treat, such as a fancy coffee, tea, or dessert.
  3. Exercise!
  4. Take a long shower or soak in a bubble bath.
  5. Get a manicure or pedicure.
  6. Buy yourself flowers that make you happy.
  7. Spend time outdoors (hiking, biking, walking, etc.).
  8. Watch a movie or show.
  9. Buy a new book and spend 10-15 minutes reading daily.
  10. Laugh! Find things that make you laugh (funny videos, blog, stories, etc.).
  11. Take a 5-minute walk in the sunshine.
  12. Allow yourself to cry.
  13. Play a game alone or with friends.
  14. Have a pillow fight with your partner or kids!
  15. Keep a journal.
  16. Garden.
  17. Take a get-away trip with your partner (without your kids).
  18. Listen to an audiobook or podcast while driving.
  19. Try to disconnect from work when not at work.
  20. Ask for help (let your kids and partner make dinner, do the dishes, etc.).
  21. Participate in a group activity you enjoy.
  22. Set aside romantic time with your partner
  23. Take a dance class
  24. Buy a candle that you like and burn it throughout the house.
  25. Order pizza or Door Dash dinner one night.
  26. Spend 5 minutes meditating at any point in your day.
  27. Sleep. Try to get a solid 7-8 hours a night.
  28. Skip the chores for one day!
  29. Buy yourself a new outfit or pair of shoes.
  30. Paint a craft (sew, knit, make jewelry, etc.).

Practicing self-care, especially as a parent takes intentionality and support. Leave yourself sticky notes throughout the house as a gentle reminder to give yourself permission to take a break. No single self-care idea will eliminate all your parenting stress, but combining several practices, even if it’s only 5 minutes at a time will improve your mood, improve your parenting, and make your daily life more satisfying.

Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical or legal advice. This site is for information purposes only. Viewing this site, receipt of information contained on this site, or the transmission of information from or to this site does not constitute a clinician-client relationship. The information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this site.

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