This post is part of Stress-Less Parenting Club's second workshop. Asha Dornfest and Christine Koh, co-authors of Minimalist Parenting, are sharing their best advice on simplifying family life. Here, Christine asserts the importance of "me time" for parents.
The term parenting is most readily defined as the act of taking care of and raising children. But parenting is also the act or process of becoming a parent, which we believe is as much about taking care of you as it is about taking care of your children. Because here's the thing: When you become a parent, your priorities naturally shift. But that doesn't mean you should disappear.
Carving out time for yourself and internalizing that you have a right to that time is easier said than done. Not only are there real constraints on your time, money, and mental capacity, there are cultural associations between parenthood and martyrdom. To pretend we're immune to those pressures just isn't realistic.
We devote the majority of Minimalist Parenting to helping you declutter your emotional, physical, and time-oriented space. But we wrap up with a chapter on self-care because we want you to finish the book thinking about YOU.
Part of the Minimalist Parenting journey is learning to think of self-care as a habit and an attitude to develop more than something to simply "check off a list." In the book, we provide lots of practical tips on how to build self-care into your schedule; but if you're still not convinced there's room in your life, here are some tips on how to move beyond the typical roadblocks:
"I don't have time."
Hands down, time is one of the biggest scarcities for modern parents. But everyone can carve out 10-20 minutes a day for self-care time. Yes, it may require reallocating and prioritizing (I, for one, recommend foregoing perfectly-folded laundry), asking for help or getting creative with how you build the time into your day.
For example, one way I fit self-care into my schedule is by building it into child care transit time. I push my 2-year-old, Violet, in the jogger to day care and then run home (or run a longer loop ending at home). It's a win for everyone; Violet gets to hunt for dogs, buses and trucks en route, and I get my self-care.
We all deserve at least ten minutes a day to focus on ourselves; schedule it in the calendar as a non-negotiable meeting!
"I don't have money for self-care."
Self-care doesn't have to mean expensive spa treatments. We define it as whatever feels relaxing and rejuvenating to YOU. Curling up with a book or magazine, going for a walk, writing in a journal, sitting with a cup of tea and doing absolutely nothing? All are forms of self-care and all are deliciously within your reach.
Another crucial aspect of self-care is looking after your health. While getting a mammogram isn't exactly the relaxing "massage" we look forward to, it's one example of the importance of caring for yourself.
"My kids are my first priority."
Of course your children are a priority. And you deserve to be a priority too. Remember that kids see and hear everything. Self-care sets a crucial example for your kids about the relationship between taking care of yourself and being able to take care of others.
"It seems selfish to take time for myself."
Repeat after me: Self-care is not selfish. When you treat yourself well, goodness trickles down into your relationships with your partner, your kids, your friends and your community. It's like a big circle of awesomeness. Your ability to take care of others is directly proportional to your own vitality and happiness.
"Why bother? My partner doesn't notice."
Trust me, they will. I'm not just talking about whether you decide to wear a snappier outfit today. If you are depleted and cranky, your partner (and your kids) will notice. One of the many benefits of taking care of yourself is the natural brightening effect it has on your relationship with your partner and those around you.
Have I convinced you that you deserve to make self-care a priority? I hope so! Remember, you get to define self-care. As you customize your approach to your new minimalist life, keep in mind that you are driving the bus. Make joy a goal. You deserve happiness. Every day.
Minimalist Parenting ultimately makes room for you to experience life more fully. To quiet your mind. Relax your body. Breathe deeply. Eat mindfully. Be present. Each time you find yourself with free time, grab it with joyful hands.
Want to put Christine's advice into practice? Check out our workshop and participate in this week's challenge. If you haven't signed up for Stress-Less Parenting yet, go to the purple box on the right side of this page to receive our weekly newsletter.