Young mom waking up early
Family Health

Parents, It's OK to Put Yourself First

Putting yourself first in order to mark off some personal time is important for everyone, especially parents. With summer almost at its end and back-to-school shopping complete, parents have an opportunity to get some time to themselves.

But let's face it: Raising kids is demanding, and even when the kids head back to the classroom, many parents still wind up letting their own needs take a back seat. Well, we're here to remind you that it's OK -- even essential -- to take some time for yourself.

Why "Me Time" Is Important

When you put yourself first, it's easy to feel like you're being unfair or selfish, which could lead to feelings of guilt -- in our fast-paced culture, taking breaks is often discouraged, and this sentiment can carry over into how we parent. Unfortunately, this go-go lifestyle can lead to burnout, chronic stress, and health problems.

On the other hand, the more content and calm you are, the better you'll be able to take on parenting challenges with grace and make decisions about how to deal with conflicts. By giving yourself a chance to rejuvenate, you'll have more of yourself to give and be able to stay steady under pressure when things get hectic.

Ways to Score Some Personal Time

Finding time when you can put yourself first is difficult, especially if you happen to be raising more than one child in addition to your job and other responsibilities. Here are some tips to help you squeeze out some time for yourself during your day:

  • Mark your calendar. Treat your me time like a doctor's appointment: Pencil it into your schedule to make it clear to others in your life -- and to yourself -- that it's nonnegotiable.
  • Get up earlier. If you set your alarm to go off even 15 minutes earlier than you normally would, that's extra time you can spend on your own, perhaps enjoying a hot cup of coffee or a moment to read.
  • Take a night off. Once a week, give yourself an evening off from chores. When the kids go to bed, do something you love: Read a book, call a friend, or practice your favorite hobby. Try to avoid passive tasks like watching TV, as they won't give you that positive stimulation you're craving.
  • Pamper yourself. A morning bath is a great opportunity to treat yourself. Use good products, find scents that you enjoy, and allow yourself several nice, deep breaths to help start your day.
  • Share the load. If you have a circle of friends who are fellow parents, suggest sharing some babysitting duties. Send your kids off to hang out with your friends and their kids for an hour or two, and return the favor later. This gets you some guilt-free personal time and helps your friends achieve the same.
  • Go out once a month. Nights out can be expensive, but consider saving the expense for once a month. Put a date on the calendar, get a babysitter, and enjoy something you can't do with your kids, such as shopping for new clothes, dinner and a movie with your spouse, or a night out with friends.

Start Small

Getting started can be the most difficult part of establishing personal time. It's perfectly acceptable to begin slowly: 10 to 15 minutes a day still gives you time to breathe. When you feel like you can, work your way up until you've carved out enough time to feel refreshed. When you finally get that personal time, don't use it to catch up on chores -- focus on yourself and what you really need.

Remember, you deserve this. As a parent, you have one of the hardest jobs on the planet, so embrace your personal time. You're worth it!

Posted in Family Health

Krista Viar is a freelance writer, aspiring author, and florist. She hails from central New Hampshire, where she received the 2013 NHTI Overall Best Fiction Writing Award for her thorough research and insightful analysis. In addition to her Bachelor of Science in developmental psychology, she has trained in general human biology and LNA caregiving, and has almost a lifetime of experience in agriculture.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.