Photo: Parenting Now

As parents, self-care can feel like one more item on our never-ending to-do list. We can even beat ourselves up over it — or feel guilty when we do take time for ourselves.

But self-care shouldn’t be a cause of stress or worry. Rather, it should replenish your soul and make the challenges of parenting a little easier to handle.

Rethinking self-care

Advertising and social media have done a good job of “glamorizing” self-care, making us parents believe that self-care is spending the day at the spa or taking a kid-free vacation, or having a shopping spree at Target –and those things are great, if that works for you. But, in truth, self-care is much simpler than that—and chances are, you are already doing some form of self-care every day. 

So, what is self-care? On a basic level, it is something that helps you take care of you, whether it’s your mind, body, or soul. It is something you can do for yourself to fill “your” cup. It’s putting on your oxygen mask first, so you can best care for others.

As parents, we give and give and give to best support our families and nurture our children’s growth and development. It’s easy for a parent’s needs to get lost in the shuffle. At Parenting Now, we talk to a lot of families who struggle to find time in the day for self-care. We get it. Being a busy parent means finding creative ways to fit in self-care.

One idea we have is to find an activity you enjoy doing that your child can also participate in on some level. For example, if you enjoy gardening, find a designated spot for your child to play in the dirt and plant seeds or flowers. Child-size gardening tools and buckets will encourage your child to get messy and have some fun alongside you.

For those of us who enjoy walks or hiking, try bringing along some homemade binoculars (made from two toilet paper rolls and string), and go bird watching. You could also come up with a “mission” or scavenger hunt to make the hike more enticing. 

Another fun idea for new parents is babywearing while dancing. You can do this from the comforts of home, or with a group—remember, self-care can be both alone time, or connecting with other adults! Nurturely (in Eugene) offers Babywearing y Bailando on Fridays from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm in their Perinatal Lounge. This is a great way to fit in movement and exercise, boost your endorphins, bond with baby, and meet some new people!

In addition, consider joining a parenting group, such as those offered at Parenting Now, where you can meet parents with same-aged children to share the ups and downs of parenting and learn about your child’s development.

By attending to your own self-care you are modeling what self-care is and what it looks like for your child. You can use your self-care moments to model feelings and problem-solving for your child

Self-care is achievable

It’s easy to think that you are not doing enough for your own self-care. The first step is to break this pattern of thinking. Let go of the idea that self-care has to be this big grandiose event. Without realizing it, you are already providing yourself with self-care. Your routines of the day (turning on some music in the morning, cooking something you like, waking up 15 minutes before the rest of your family) are forms of self-care. Routines provide us with a sense of comfort, and help to reduce our stress and anxiety levels. Carve out time for routine things, and recognize and feel good about the nice things you do for yourself. Remember, self-care is achievable. 

Amanda Bedortha is the Communications Manager at Parenting Now. She enjoys gardening, exploring Oregon, and spending time with her family.