This month I am taking part in a project on Instagram all about the concept of “The Prepared Adult”, and I thought I would share some thoughts here too. If we’re not already connected on Instagram, come along and say hi!
This week the participants in “The Prepared Adult” are writing about self care, and how this applies to us as prepared adults.
Why is self care so important?
Self care is a topic I talk about all the time because I think it’s one of the most important things to focus on as peaceful parents. Whenever I work with clients – in groups, on courses, or in my private work – self care always comes up. It’s a vital foundation for parents; when we’re feeling burnt our and exhausted, we simply cannot show up the way we want to as parents and humans (you can read my post here on why self care is anything but selfish!).
Because of this, proper self care is absolutely vital if we are to be peaceful and empathetic with our children, connected and responsive to our partners, and happy and fulfilled as individuals. More than any other one thing I can think of, taking care of ourselves has the hugest impact when it comes to how we are able to show up to ourselves and those around us.
But I’ve seen first-hand over and over again in my work that, despite knowing this, self care is one of the first things that parents let slip when they are busy, tired, stressed, or worn out. It seems easier to read more books, book more coaching, or to buy more “stuff” than it is to simply slow down and address our own needs. I say simply, but of course there is nothing “simple” about getting your needs met when you are juggling the needs of everyone else around you!
What self care looks like for me
For me, self care means taking time to read good books, often – and not just books on education and parenting, much as I love these. It means avoiding the news when my anxiety is high (I realise I am privileged in being able to do so and am not forced to confront some of the world’s horrors as my lived experience). It means listening to music that makes me feel alive. It means learning new skills, and nourishing my brain. It means committing to weekly therapy sessions with a wonderful counsellor (again, it’s a privilege to be able to prioritise our money and make sacrifices to do this). It means washing my face before bed every night and using face oil. It means taking time to breathe deeply, in and out. It means digging deep into what’s going on for me under the surface, and being curious and compassionate with myself. It means communicating my needs clearly to those around me, and being proactive in asking for help where it is needed. It means having boundaries. It means hot baths, and early nights, and solo coffees, and long walks.
Taking my self care seriously makes an enormous difference not just to me and my mental health, but it has a palpable impact on my parenting, how I communicate with my husband, and how I respond to others around me.
When I neglect my own needs, my daughter gets a mum whose temper is shorter, who says no more, who is less present and more distracted, and generally less happy. I owe it to both of us to make it a priority.