Self-care is a relatively new entrant into the popular lexicon. Associated with generation Z, the term conjures images of late teens who are (so we're told) naval gazing, hypersensitive and overly health conscious.
Putting yourself first is good advice if you’re a university student with no dependants, but neglecting the demands of others seems an unrealistic proposition when little people’s lives depend on your attention. For busy parents, especially working and single parents, it can be hard enough to get everyone fed and out the door in the morning, so the idea of developing a meditation practice or ensuring your energy levels are in balance seems beyond reach!
Bloombox Club asked a group of parents about the topic of self-care, and had mixed responses. One mum said she felt that there was ‘something indulgent’ about the idea of, while others commented that self-care practices would become another item on an already extensive to-do list. Yet it’s when we’re most under pressure that we need to carve out time the most.
Psychology Today reviewed research that claimed mothers work an average of 98 hours per week, when tasks such as cooking and cleaning were taken into account. If tasks such as chauffeuring, counselling, and homework assistance were taken into account, Bloombox Club suspects that this figure would be even higher.
For your own sanity (as well as for your capacity to give care) it's vital that you consider your own needs along with the needs of those around you.
Here are some of the things busy parents can do to ensure that they’re taking care of themselves:
Organised fun has a bad rap, but when you’re busy, and getting time for yourself is proving difficult, setting aside a specific half hour to relaxation time can be really beneficial.
Put you-time in the calendar you use for work and familial commitments, and honour it the way you would a meeting or an appointment.
SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES
Be clear about when you’re working and when you’re not working; when you’re available to colleagues, clients and friends, and when you’re only available to family.
One way of achieving this is to set a regular out-of-office email, politely reminding people of your working hours, and assuring them that you’ll get back to them during that period. This can be especially helpful if you work part-time or in a flexible-working organisation.
LET YOURSELF BE BLUE
This is not to say you should make yourself needlessly or unduly miserable (!), rather that you should give yourself licence to feel any negative emotions that you’ve been bottling up. Parents we spoke to confirmed that needing to attend to the emotional needs of family members forced them to neglect their own.
Find some time to reflect on the things that have been worrying you, or events that have been distressing. Writing these feelings down can be a helpful exercise. Repressing negative emotions so that we can get on with out lives can be necessary, but if we do not open up these thoughts and process difficult life-events, it can cause greater problems down the road, and be completely incapacitating.
What are your thoughts on self-care? We’d love to hear any tips you have - let us know on @BloomboxClub