Across the globe, there are 258 worldwide births per minute, resulting in a huge 516 individuals becoming parents for either the first time or expanding their family further every 60 seconds. Only parents know the true extent that having a child can have on your life, with time, energy and undivided attention required at all times. With no pre-written handbook to give answers to the meaning of newborn cries, how to handle the ‘terrible twos’ phase or even how to complete primary education homework, the journey through parenthood, whilst hugely rewarding, can also be exhausting, so here is why parents shouldn't feel guilty for taking time for themselves.
The demand placed on parents is huge, and when you are consumed by love and adoration for your little ones, it is easy to forget that as parents, it’s important to take time out. Being a parent often means that the needs of everyone else come first yet taking time to recharge without the presence of your children is key in supporting your social life, fitness levels and overall physical and mental health.
It’s easy to feel like taking time to yourself could lead to your children suffering due to time without you, but in most cases taking a small break can be hugely beneficial. From the day they’re born, children are observing and imitating those around them, and are easily influenced in terms of how they should behave within the world that they’re in. Because of this, parents set an example to their children on a daily basis, so it’s important to display some form of self-care too.
All parents suffer from sleep deprivation, with studies proving that in the first year of a baby’s life, new parents get on average only four hours and 44 minutes of sleep her night. This lack of slumber will not only increase feelings of exhaustion but can affect overall functioning ability. Life coach and relationship expert Carole Ann Rice explains ““Running on empty means you will be short tempered, frazzled and low on energy. Like the airlines say, put the oxygen mask over your own face before you help others. Be the role model you want your children to see. You can't parent well when you are frowning, resentful and at your wits end.”
Carole Ann Rice adds “Parenthood takes its toll on everyone - we can end up feeling burned out and resentful and sadly missing out on the fun and joy of our offspring's childhood. It can put a strain on the relationship and our health - stress, insomnia, depression and anxiety reduces our immune systems. We end up picking up every virus and bug the children bring home - they get over it in days, while it takes adults weeks to recover.”
Children’s retailer, Kiddies Kingdom have collated their top five ways to ensure parents are taking time for themselves, to avoid burn out:
- Book a gym session or yoga class. As well as exercise being hugely beneficial for mental and physical wellbeing, this dedicated time will ensure you take a break.
- Make time to see friends or spend time with your loved one – schedule in an afternoon coffee or an evening off occasionally, with an adult, this will give an opportunity to have a grown-up conversation and give your mind a short break.
- Pamper days are a fantastic outlet for altering frame of mind. A spa or hair appointment will take only a couple of hours out of your day and will induce feelings of positivity both inside and out.
- Altering your sleep schedule to allow an hour or two of free time could work wonders for your wellbeing. If your child sleeps until late morning, ensure you get a bedtime head start so that you can be up bright and early, to utilise those extra minutes for a shower or to read a book.
- Ask for help. When you let go of the need to manage every single detail, you open yourself up to having just a little more time to yourself.
One of the greatest pleasures of being a parent is certainly spending time with your children and that will never change but creating time for yourself is equally important. Making these changes won’t happen overnight but small adjustments will help you adapt to taking the time for the selfcare that you deserve.