The new way to look after yourself as a parent


28 Feb 2024

The new way to look after yourself as a parent

Zoe Blaskey: Motherkind
The new way to look after yourself as a parent

I have had the privilege of speaking to over four hundred experts on my leading podcast and official podcast of The Baby Show, Motherkind, from parenting experts to doctors and psychologists and every single one of them has passionately told me the same thing: we have to prioritise our own wellbeing as parents too. Parenting is one of the most physically and emotionally demanding roles there is, so we have to focus on our own health, so we don’t burn out. And sadly burnout amongst parents is at an all-time high with 93% of parents reporting feeling burnout. It’s why we’re told on an aeroplane to “put your own oxygen mask on, before helping others' and why the cliche is true “You can’t pour from an empty cup' '.

So many parents I speak to worry that caring for themselves too is “selfish” and experience guilt when they do something for themselves. I want to completely reframe that for you - looking after yourself IS also looking after your children. Think about it when you’re exhausted, stressed out and overwhelmed, it’s harder to play, emotionally connect and be present with our children which is what they need from us. When we’re able to care for ourselves as parents, we’re in turn teaching our children that looking after themselves is important. It’s actually confusing for children to hear messages about the importance of looking after themselves, but then not witnessing the caregivers around them living that message.

So how do we actually do it? You might have heard the term ‘self-care’ but I think that has come to be synonymous with two things us parents often don’t have: time and money. So instead let’s think about energy management. When your phone runs out of battery, you plug it in every day without even thinking about it. It's not a moral issue whether your phone is worth charging or not, if we want it to work we have to charge it. Just like our phones run down in battery every day, the stresses and pressures of parenthood are daily so we need to balance the scales with daily acts of energy management. Taking care of your energy is your right, not a reward for when you’ve ticked off everything on your ‘to do’ list (which also: never happens).

My energy management tool is simple, intentionally so, because we have enough on our plates as it is. Paying close attention to what gives you energy and drains your energy is like making a deposit in your energy account and making less withdrawals, your energy balance increases. Most people when they feel exhausted or low on energy think about what they should do more of (sleep, nutrition, exercise). My approach is so powerful because it also invites you to think about what you need to do less.

So I invite you now to spend a few minutes thinking about what drains your energy and what gives you energy. It could be just a few simple things such as reflecting on the people that make you feel great, the things you do that you always look forward to, how you like to have fun and on the drains what leaves you feeling tired, what you dread, what you agree to and then wish you hadn’t. Once you have your unique list, then you can begin to do less of what drains you and more of what gives you energy. It might feel like a monumental task taking better care of yourself as a parent so make sure you start small. Change sticks when we start small and build more and more each week or month. Thousands of parents I’ve supported

have reported back to me that making these small, achievable changes in their lives has given them more fun, joy and energy in their lives- all of which enables them to be the parents they want to be.

I know how hard it is to prioritise your own well-being and mental health as a parent, but I hope I’ve helped you see looking after yourself differently - that is actually part of being a good parent.

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