Being effective parents, or caring for other family members, can be hugely rewarding and enjoyable, but it is also hard work and requires ongoing energy and effort. It is difficult to do this if we are not looking after ourselves.
Many people who are struggling to look after their children (or other family members) or who are feeling overwhelmed by their childcare responsibilities are actually neglecting themselves. This is often physical neglect, like not eating properly or getting enough sleep. Frequently it is also neglect of their emotional and mental health as well.
It is important, then, to be realistic about what we can expect from ourselves and to get the basic building blocks of self-care right so we are in a better position to care for others, including our children.
- Eat well.
- Sleep well.
- Fit in some relaxation.
- Do some fun things.
- Make use of support.
- Look after your emotional wellbeing.
Making use of support is important for all of us, but it is particularly important for sole parents or for parents whose partner is absent for long periods, perhaps because of shift work or work commitments away from the family home.
Being effective parents and carers also means building and maintaining strong relationships. This will often include couple relationships, but can include other relationships with extended family and friends.