By Susan Parmelee
I learned something very important when I had three children under the age of 5. Self-care is not selfish; in fact, trying to be the “martyr” mom, often trying to do it all, did not result in being a nice person. But the parent who found time for self-care was a much better parent. This is an important topic, as many parents may be feeling summer burnout and might be checking the calendar to count the days until the kids go back to school.
No matter how old the children are, taking care of and being responsible for another human being can seem overwhelming. It may be even more demanding than when my children were young, as everyone seems to be parenting so perfectly on Facebook feeds. I work with parents and youth who discuss the pressures of social media, so I recommend to take time away from computers and cell phones. No one really benefits from always being connected.
So, how do we find the time for self-care? It needs to be intentional. Some parents wake earlier to meditate, go to the gym, journal, or just have a quiet cup of coffee. It’s alright to ask children to take a quiet hour in the afternoon, and that might be an ideal time to call an old friend, take a bubble bath, or work on a creative project. What kind of activities bring you peace or re-energize you? It might be nice to take time to catch-up on your book club book or lay out in the backyard hammock.
Self-care should include caring for your relationship with your partner too. This should be included in your sacred self-care time a few times a week and possibly a weekly date night. A study from the UK Family Foundation found that couples who regularly went on a date night were more likely to stay together. (See a link to the study in this article at www.sanclementetimes.com). Reasons cited included that couples who intentionally take time away for themselves improve their communication skills and seem to be less likely to feel like they are being taken for granted. It is important for couples to be a “we” away from the demands of home, making them more likely to feel like an effective parent team.
As one very wise parent once told me, “me” time makes us better at “we” time. The benefits of self-care lead to happier homes and stronger families. When you make self-care a central part of your life, you’ll find that the kindness you show to yourself infuses your own life, and the life of your family with positivity and optimism. More importantly, you will serve as a model for your children and make the path to reach your goals and those of your family so much smoother.
On Sunday, Sept. 17, the Wellness & Prevention Center will host its first annual Celebrate Wellness event from 4-8 p.m. at the Ole Hanson Beach Club, located at 105 W. Avenida Pico. Proceeds will be used to help provide mental health and prevention education services to middle and high school students in San Clemente.
Susan Parmelee is a mental health social worker and one of the founders of the Wellness & Prevention Center, San Clemente. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The next Wellness & Prevention Coalition meeting will take place at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 8, in the Triton Center Conference Room on the campus of San Clemente High School, located at 700 Avenida Pico. All meetings are open to the public.