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Experts Share Self-Care Tips for Parents

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Parent coach and therapist Maria Sanders, LSW recently came in for a live talk at Mentally Fit about self-care for parents.

In the clip below, she talks bout what self-care means for parents:

Here's what 3 parenting experts had to say in response:

Dr. April J. Lisbon - Author & K-12 School Psychologist

My name is Dr. April J. Lisbon and I am an autism coach strategist and empowerment speaker. Specifically, I help professional working autism mothers learn how to command their time, reduce their stress levels, and improve their finances. I am also an international award winning author and a certified K-12 school psychologist.

After reviewing Maria’s video, I truly agree that it is mandatory that we establish and set clear boundaries when discussing self-care issues. All too often we are so consumed with other people’s issues and our jobs that we forget to do something as simple as breathing.

Having said this, I would say that one of the challenges that most people often experience is giving themselves permission to be ‘selfish’ about their time. What do I mean? For most people, especially those with children, we often feel about taking time out for ourselves in fear that we might miss out on key moments in our children’s lives (e.g. first steps) or potentially forget to complete a task that more than likely can wait until tomorrow.

We have to get out of this microwave mindset that everything has to be done at warped speed. No, it does not. I promise you that the work will get done and the children will be fine. The person who won’t be fine is you. Why? Because you are too emotionally and mentally drained to give yourself the gift of YOU. You deserve that shower. You deserve that ice cream cone without the children. You deserve to take time out to enjoy your breath and connect with nature. The reality is that both you and I have earned the right to create and implement a self-care plan for ourselves.

Dr. John DeGarmo - Director at The Foster Care Institute

I am Dr. John DeGarmo, a TEDx speaker, the founder and director of The Foster Care Institute, and I conduct seminars and consult across the world on parenting, foster care, child sex trafficking, adoption, and child welfare related issues. I am also the author of several books, including the new book The Foster Care Survival Guide, and Helping Foster Children in School. Finally, I am the parent of 6 children, including adopting three adopted from foster care, and have been a foster parent to over 60 children.

I watched the video, and agree. It IS necessary to care for oneself as a parent, and it is okay to sometimes say "no". Yet, so many parents today do not recognize this, and the whole family suffers, as a result.

Without a doubt, parenting is hard work! It may just be the hardest work you ever do. You will often find yourself exhausted, both mentally and physically, and feel drained at times. The job will require you to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no time off. You will probably feel overworked and underappreciated. Many times, our children will our patience, and leave us with headaches, frustrations, disappointments, and even heartbreaks at times.

I know of some people that become so engrossed in being a parent and taking care of children that their own personal identity disappears over time. Don't neglect who you are and what makes you special. After all, your spouse fell in love with you for who you are! When parenting becomes too stressful, you and your family will all feel the effects. Thus, one of the most important reminders for you, as a parent, is the fact that you need to take care of yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

If you neglect yourself, your family will suffer as a result. Finding time for you will not be easy, but it is very essential. Make time to do something you enjoy, and that you find relaxing. Spend time with some friends, perhaps over lunch or dinner. Do not neglect your own personal health; make sure you get plenty of exercise regularly and eat healthy. If you take time for yourself, you will help to ensure your well being, as you care for others in your own home.

Damon Nailer - Parent Educator & Consultant

I currently serve as a certified practitioner for the following programs: Positive Parenting Program (Triple P), Nurturing Parenting Program (NPP), and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE's).

I agree with what Maria stated. I would add that self-care encompasses all four components of our being- the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical sides of us. Here are a few suggestions of how we can meet the needs of our total self:

1. Adequate Rest- We have to get adequate rest so our minds, bodies, and spirits can repair and rejuvenate. Inadequate rest increases the potential of us having problems in the following areas: focus/attention, immune system health, energy, emotions, and strength. Having to address these issues would really make parenting tough and very stressful.

2. Meditation/Prayer - We need to spend time alone with our own thoughts in order to ponder on inspirational words/phrases, positive experiences, and our dreams/ambitions.

Additionally, for those of us who believe in prayer, this is something we should do on a consistent basis to assist us in decompressing, elevating our minds, and empowering our spirits. These practices will enable us to have the proper attitudes and display appropriate behavior towards our children.

3. Exercise- As humans, we were created to move. Exercise has proven to be extremely beneficial to our entire being. It helps with concentration/mental clarity, weight loss, flexibility, strength, overall immune system functionality, sleep, emotional stability, endurance, etc. The healthier we are as individuals, the better parents we will be.

4. Nurturing Self-Here is one of my quotes that I love to utilize-"You can only reproduce what is already produced in you". In essence, your input determines your output. To be compassionate, caring, and kind parents, we have to treat ourselves in this manner first so that we can then reciprocate it to our children.


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