Someone once said, “happy wife, happy life” and while I don’t disagree, I’d also add, “happy parent, happy family life!” Parenting is hard. Plain and simple. It’s not that there aren’t sweet moments in each day–there are and if you ever need a reminder, simply look at the photos or video clips in your iPhone–but they’re also everyday, routine, mundane tasks that go along with raising a family. One look at a kitchen full of messy dishes and milk drips on the counter tops after serving breakfast and hustling little ones into shoes and out the door to school with backpacks and lunch boxes in hand is sometimes enough to make me want to go upstairs and hide from it all!
It helps me to take a deep breath, get outside and take a short walk with my dog before coming back in the house and starting my day. I was inspired to write this post because I think all parents–myself included–do well with support, encouragement, and positive praise. When we take the time to be as nurturing to ourselves and as good at self-care as we are at caring for our families, we become happier!
It’s simple, really, and I know it’s easier said than done, but investing in ourselves has got to be a high priority if we want to avoid parenting burnout! The better we are to ourselves, the happier, more balanced, more giving, patient, calm and loving we’ll be to our kids and families. You can’t give of yourself if you have nothing in your reserve tank at the end of each day. It’s important to stay mindful of this fact and to notice if there’s a correlation between the hardest days you’ve had as a parent and the seasons in life that you didn’t make your own self-care a priority. I know that I’m less patient, less calm, less loving and happy when I have been giving, giving, giving without taking some time just for me. Sometimes a simple walk, 20 minutes of reading a book, or calling a friend is all I need to feel refreshed. Of course, an hour would be nice but on my busiest days, if I create even 20 minutes of downtime in my schedule, I find I’m in a better mood and my outlook is more positive.
Practicing self-care is not a luxury, it’s a daily necessity. Parenting is hard enough, we need to give ourselves permission to take a mini break each day. Even if that means you have to wake up a little earlier to find the peace and quiet, hire a babysitter once in a while, or find a regular play date for your kids that you can take turns hosting with a friend so that you can have a few hours to yourself.
One of the ways I practice self-care is by running. Running, for me, is a great way of releasing stress, anxiety and worries. I feel better when I devote the time to run or go for a great hike and I feel blessed to live in Los Angeles with a year-round outdoor climate that allows me to do all the outdoor activities I love! Another way I practice self-care is by buying myself flowers each week at Trader Joe’s when I do our grocery shopping. I love taking the time to arrange the sunflowers, ranunculus, snapdragons, freesia and other flowers I find in vases around my house. When I walk back in the door with our kids at the end of the day, I get a smile on my face when I look around and see pops of color all around! This week, my favorite flowers, peonies, were in stock and I was so excited to buy them and make a small arrangement for my nightstand (see the picture at the top of this post!) It may seem like a small thing, but maybe happiness is simply taking the time to notice all the small things we all have in our lives to be grateful for each day!