Handling the many issues that go along with raising children can be stressful. That’s why it’s important to remember to take some time to relax and unwind. I know that it is not always easy, but when you take care of yourself, you can take better care of your children.
When I was a single parent many years ago, I remember how overwhelming it all was. There was simply no extra money to hire a babysitter so I could have some time alone. Even when occasionally I had extra money, I was too tired to think of calling a babysitter, let alone to think of going out.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to take care of yourself and reduce your stress levels though. Here are some ideas:
Get enough physical activity
Getting out and getting active helps to reduce your stress levels. When I was single, I would take the kids to this one park where there was a walking path right around the playground equipment. The kids could play, and I could do laps around the equipment. I was “alone”, but yet I was with them and I could see them to make sure they were safe.
Eat a healthy variety of foods
When you are stressed, it’s easy to just binge on junk food or avoid food altogether. Neither option is healthy. Take time to prepare meals for yourself and make sure that you are eating a healthy variety of foods.
Get enough rest
If you aren’t well rested, it’s harder to deal with stress and conflict. Make sure to get a good night’s rest. When the children were very little and I was parenting them alone, I’d sometimes take a nap if I could during the day. For example, if they’ve been up all night and are sick, it’s a good idea to rest when they are napping during the day.
Take time for yourself
Even though I was short on money and energy during those hectic years, I’d take time for myself. We lived in a second floor apartment—try that with 4 kids! Because of this, I often took my kids to the park so they could run off their energy. While they were playing, I’d call my friends on the phone to catch up with them or listen to a DVD. I was still there with my children and I could make sure they were safe, but I was still taking time for myself. Of course, if you have the support network, it’s a great idea to get a sitter and just go out by yourself for a while—even if it’s to read at the library.
Parenting is one of the most rewarding, yet stressful jobs anyone can undertake. Taking time take care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for your children, because it makes you a better parent.