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How can parents nurture themselves?

Lynne Kenney
Psychology
Pay attention to your feelings. You need to care for yourself in order to care for others. Recently a mom told me that she feels agitated and annoyed when not on her antidepressant medication. She felt ashamed that she suffered from depression said that when she starts feeling better on the medication, she sometimes stops taking it, which just makes her vulnerable to depression again. I thought she was brave to say this. She wasn’t alone, but many people keep their pain to themselves. Just expressing her discomfort and embarrassment to a supportive person let her choose to get back on track.

Know yourself. You are human, even if you are a parent, with all the ups and downs that come with being real. It is valuable to know yourself, your style, your strengths and challenges as a parent -- and this includes taking the time to know yourself better. Reflect for a moment:

  • am I a morning or evening person?
  • what time of the day do I work best?
  • what time of the day am I most productive?
  • how do I best communicate with my spouse?
  • how do I best communicate with my children?
  • Simply reflect on yourself, your style and how you respond to your relationships and your environment. Reflection leads to improvements in your everyday life.

Parenting is a 24/7 job! There are no coffee or lunch breaks guaranteed; no paid vacation; and, definitely no retirement plan. They may get older and move out but you are always a parent. Parents must acknowledge that they need to recharge their batteries in order to survive the most important job they will ever have. Here are a few practical tips:

  1. Spell each other off for rest periods so that each parent can be physically up to the task.
  2. If Mom is breastfeeding an infant, pump a bottle of milk so that Dad can take a feeding at night or in the evening while she has a bubble bath or whatever her favorite relaxation is.
  3. Drop the kids off with a relative or sitter to have a date night. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive as long as it gives the couple have some time to communicate freely and without interruption, have some fun or just laugh about life.
  4. Keep connected with your favorite adults, even if the children are with you when you visit.
  5. Talk to each other honestly about how you are feeling and what concerns you have. Listen without judgment so you can support each other rather than add to each other's stress.

Parents need to rejuvenate their relationship. So that when parenting gets less exhausting, they will still have a connection to each other.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.