Taking Care of You
Step parenting can be unbelievably hard and stressful. It's easy to feel like we have to be there at all times for our partner and our stepchildren but sometimes we can find ourselves overstretched, exhausted and running on empty.
Take a moment right now to check in with how you feel. Are you feeling any of the following?
All these feelings and emotions are very common and natural amongst step parents - but are signs that it may be time to pause and take some time out to look after you and your own self-care.
Sometimes we must give ourselves permission to not be there and be "on" all the time. We can put so much pressure on ourselves to be a superhero parent when in reality, creating a happy step family takes its own time and is the responsibility of everyone involved.
What Do We Mean by Self Care?
When was the last time you gave yourself a bit of "me time"? That is, time just for you to do whatever it is that makes you happy and relaxed without any responsibility to look after anyone else. Allowing yourself time out from step parenting gives you a chance to recharge your batteries, and as a step parent this is something that we can all benefit from on a regular basis.
Self-care can be anything that allows us to switch off our minds from our present-day issues, like:
- Reading a book
- Watching a movie
- Visiting a spa for a pamper day
- A round of golf
- Meeting a friend for coffee
- Having a nap
- Just being in a quiet place uninterrupted
- Doing some gardening
- Going for a run or to the gym.
The list is endless and is very personal to you.
It’s important that you and your partner respect each other to each have time out and to make sure you are left alone to enjoy your time.
Self-care isn't running away - it's about recharging your batteries so you come back reenergised and ready to take on the challenges of step parenting afresh.
Finding time to spend alone with your partner can be self-care for your relationship - to keep it fun and exciting. If this is the case then having a circle of babysitters to look after your step children for a while is crucial.
Some couples have a regular date night each week or month, or maybe have a weekend away together and have a break from the whole step parent routine.
Whatever it is you decide to do together, make it a rule that neither of you talks about anything related to step parenting, children or families. This time you have alone together will have a positive impact on how you both feel as people and as parents.
Who benefits from you feeling this way? Both of you and your whole family. You'll feel more encouraged, focused and confident.
Self-care is important. The more positive, relaxed and peaceful we can keep our minds then the better we will fulfil our other responsibilities. It’s easy to neglect taking care of ourselves because when we’re busy and overwhelmed, even a small reprieve feels like a luxury. You need to keep a healthy relationship with yourself; you cannot give to others what you don’t have yourself.
By practicing self-care it allows you a chance to step away and breathe, which in turn helps you to avoid burnout.
Looking after yourself will make you feel better and the better you feel the better you will be in all areas of your life – from work to relationships.
You’re at your best when you feel your best, so make yourself a priority.
A Self Care Action Plan
I have spoken about what self-care is and given you some ideas of what yourself care might involve you doing. Now that you’re more aware of how this can benefit you, we need to make an action plan. Try these self-care tips so your health doesn’t become a sacrifice for the life you are living.
- Sleep is a crucial part of all our lives. Lack of sleep will influence both your emotional and your physical well-being. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep every night.
- Try to do something just for you every day. It could be anything that improves your mental or physical health in some way. Maybe go on a walk or call a friend for a chat. Make yourself feel good.
- Have a think each day about how you might want to improve things. Positive reflection often prompts action. Ignoring how we feel just puts off improving ourselves and our mindset.
- Start a self-care journal and write how you are feeling and your goals for the day. Hold yourself to account for what it is you want to achieve.
- Plan days out with other parents who are likely to understand what you are feeling and going through. Talk to people who have experienced how to look after themselves as a parent. Write these down on your calendar as this becomes part of your action plan. Any helpful advice you are given, write it in your journal for future reading.
- Mindfulness and meditation have been proven to calm stress and boost moods - and it need only take 10 to 15 minutes.
After your first week of testing out your action plan it’s time to reflect on whether it is working for you.
- Am I feeling better by looking after me?
- Is there anything I can do better?
- Am I keeping myself in check with what myself care goals are?
- Do I feel emotionally better because of my recent changes?
- Have you noted any positive benefits?
Reflection is very important to how you see yourself. Maybe your plan needs tweaking or adjusting. It’s trial and error and seeing what works for you. Remember that this is YOUR self-care. Changing your emotions and needs takes time and that’s okay. What works one month might not be so beneficial the next month.
Don’t allow yourself care or your plan to become a chore. Self-care plans must work for you, more self-awareness leads to a happier you which then leads on to more positive interactions with those around you.
Create this plan and be consistent with it.