February 18th is Battery Day. The unofficial holiday where you are encouraged to swap out the old, dead batteries in your household with fresh new ones. I know what you’re asking yourself…how are you going to relate this to child development. Well, today I am not going to speak directly about child development, rather, I am going to indirectly address it. Today we are going to talk about YOU and how important it is to your child’s development that you recharge your battery.
According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of recharge one’s batteries is to rest and relax in order to regain energy and strength. Often people hear this and think self-care which leads to the thought that self-care is selfish. I am here to tell you that it is not.
Self-care is in fact one of the least selfish things that you as a parent can do. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, and lecturer at Stanford University said “One of the things that you come across all the time is the idea that ‘I can’t invest in things that are good for me, because it’s taking away from my ability to be a good parent or do what I need to do at work. Wouldn’t it be great if we learn to lean into our interdependence…and [know] that when I take care of myself, I often am also taking care of others?”
I could not agree more with this sentence. Think of it like this: do you remember to safety briefing when flying? The flight attendant always said, “If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.” In other words, you can’t take care of someone else if you don’t take care of yourself.
Let’s talk about 5 ways that you can recharge yourself:
- Make Time for Yourself
Before the pandemic, we had a lot of little bouts of time to ourselves. Think about it…those minutes between dropping your child off at school and returning home, the commute to work or even the time spent grocery shopping without kids. You were ALONE.
Since many of us don’t all have those opportunities right now (hopefully we will again soon) we need to make sure that we are intentionally creating our own space to recharge and decompress. I’m not talking about an hour…I’m talking 5-10 minutes. Take a brief walk outside, take a bath, set aside time after your kids have gone to bed – without your partner.
- Set Boundaries
Create a routine and a daily schedule…and then stick to it. Uncertainty can lead to anxiety and stress. Try to keep a schedule, and within that schedule, set aside a little time for yourself. You don’t have to ‘hide in the bathroom’ to get alone time.
Create a schedule where every day – maybe at 2:00pm – you get 10 minutes to yourself. Try to schedule it at a practical time every day, perhaps after you put your kids down for a nap. I know that is usually the time when you clean things up or put things away but try to make a little bit of that time about you. You can meditate for 5 minutes; read that magazine article you’ve been saving or make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy the flavor and warmth. The dishes will still be there after you take care of yourself.
- Move your Body
Stagnation – lack of activity or movement – can lead to depression and energy depletion. It’s actually a viscous cycle – you’re not moving so you’re feeling down, and you know that any kind of movement would increase your mood, but your mood is so low that you can’t motivate to move – and the cycle continues.
Any kind of movement is great. You don’t have to run for an hour and then lift weights and do yoga. Just move your body. Have a dance party with your kids at night or take a walk alone.
- Get Outside
Now this one I am definitely guilty of. Currently I wake up in the morning, go from my bedroom to my bathroom, to the kid’s rooms, to the kitchen, to my office (which is currently located in my house). If I didn’t intentionally set time aside to do so, I would not go outside…at all.
Getting fresh air is such an important part of self-care. Stepping outside to feel the sun on your face (yes, even those that live in the snow can feel the sun, or wind or just fresh air on your face) and taking deep breaths can improve mood, help you sleep and can even improve your focus. Again, you don’t need to be outside for long. But try to make a deliberate effort each day to leave your home, even if it is to simply stand outside for a brief period of time. Get that Vitamin D!
- Be Realistic
One of the most important things to understand about the times we are in right now is that perfectionism and pandemic to not mix. Set realistic expectations at home and at work. Did you plan to do all the laundry today but found the day got away from you? That’s ok. Did you need to sit your kid down in front of the TV today so you could take 5 minutes to yourself to shower? That’s ok too.
Try to give yourself a little wiggle room. You’re doing the best that you can at an exceedingly difficult time.
The bottom line: When you’re running on fumes, caring for others can tax your already depleted resources to breaking point. When you prioritize your needs, you’re filling your tank – recharging your battery – emotionally and physically and that means you’ll be able to offer comfort and care to others when they need it most.
You need to take care of you. What is it that you need to do to feel your best? Remember that self-care does not need to involve hours or time, equipment, and energy. Sometimes that 5 minutes drinking coffee/tea in the morning before the kids get up is all you need. Other times, it’s taking a walk by yourself and listening to a podcast. Whatever recharges your battery is what works for you! Listen to yourself and take care of yourself. 😊