Being a parent is a tough, never ending, thankless job. Reading that back, it kind of sounds depressing,doesn't it? After all, who would remain at a job with 24/7 hours, zero appreciation and no vacation pay?
A parent, that's who.
Somehow, though, we all make it through. We wake early with cranky school children, walk the floor with teething babies and pack lunches in our sleep. We cook foods that people will refuse to eat, hold chubby legs down for shots, and run forgotten homework to school just one more time.
Some days, you feel like all you do is something for someone else.
In doing this, though, we often forget about ourselves.The most important person in that entire scenario. The backbone of the family, the head honcho, the President and CEO of your family - you. And if you don't take care of you, soon enough - there'll be nothing left of you to share with the people you love the most - your family.
When a flight attendant gives the spiel on safety that we all (of course!) listen to, she encourages us to put our own oxygen masks on first, before we help a young child. After all, if you aren't cared for, there's nothing left to distribute.
- Dates with Your Spouse - The person who (maybe) made you a parent, your partner in crime - take time to devote to the other half of your equation once a week or month. It doesn't have to be an expensive date - go out for coffee, walk on the beach or window shop at the most expensive furniture store in your area. Just spending time together, sans children, can have a remarkably restorative effect on your mental health and, as a bonus, you won't feel like you are all alone.
- Dates with Your Friends - Girlfriend time is precious. No one gets nearly enough of it, in my opinion. Hanging out with your girlfriends means refueling your happy spot. Make a promise to yourself that you will do so once a month. I know that when I am able to get time with my girlfriends, I come back much happier, a bit calmer and just a bit more fun to be around. Now, what family wouldn't enjoy that?
- Dates with Yourself - In addition to time with others, you also need time alone to regenerate. Cook, read, take a bath, play Wii dancing games, go for a walk. Do something that is just for you, not related to work or kids or family. You were an exciting person before you had children. Find that person again. Do something that is just for you, and what you enjoy will refill your cup.
- Exercise - Daily exercise is a must. It helps you clear your mind, raises your endorphins and getting a sweat on never fails to improve my mood. Find a sport or activity that you enjoy and try to spend some time getting a sweat on a couple of times a week. As a bonus, you may find that your pants fit better - and that never fails to improve my mindset!
- Fuel Yourself Correctly - You work hard to make sure that your kids eat healthy meals. You put the correct grade of gas in your car. Be just as kind to yourself. One day, I realized a 4 p.m. that all I'd had to eat that entire day was a cup of coffee. No wonder I had a headache and was touchy and irritable! Make sure you drink plenty of water, eat healthy balanced meals and don't overdo the sugar.
- Send a Card or Letter or Gift - This one is not so much for you as it is for your friends, but making other people feel better has a way of helping us feel better. Spend some time looking through the card aisle and send a good friend an unexpected spot of cheer. I have been known to buy a dozen cards at once and my goal is to send one a week to a friend. Write a short but heartfelt note inside and you are guaranteed to be the star of your friend's day. If you see a magnet or other small gift that reminds you of a good friend, send it. You never know the effect you can have on a person's day.
How do you make sure that you take care of you, in order to help you take care of others?