A healthy start starts here.

Self-Care Is an Important Part of Parenting

Parenting can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming. The rewards are countless, but so are the demands. To take good care of your children, you also need to take good care of yourself. That should always be a high priority.

When you feel good about yourself, it will help you to be at your best as a parent. Here are some ways you can keep your body and mind healthy:

1. Exercise on your own or as a family. Choose activities that you enjoy so that you will exercise consistently. Mix up your activities so you don’t get bored. If you aren’t able to get to a gym or a park, pick up an exercise DVD to use at home. Or go for a long walk outdoors—by yourself or with your child in a sling or stroller. Learn about resources from GetFitTN. Learn about Small Starts for Families, which will help make healthy choices part of your family’s routine.

2. Eat right. Healthy food fuels your body, so make sure you eat and drink nutritious ingredients. Food also affects mood, so try to cut down on sugars and processed foods. Learn how healthy eating habits start with parents.

3. Make sleep a priority. It’s easier said than done, but try to get eight hours of sleep. If possible, try to nap while your child naps. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to health issues. Studies show that people who consistently sleep less than six hours a day have an increased appetite. That causes weight gain and increases the risk of depression, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

4. Enjoy activities away from home. Don't let your busy schedule squeeze out time for family and friends. Commit to a date night. Go out for coffee with friends. Visit one of Tennessee’s state parks.

5. Don’t skip your healthcare needs. You wouldn’t let your kids miss their annual checkup. You owe it to yourself and your children to have your own checkup each year. If you feel sick or your body is giving you signs of a potential problem, don’t wait for your annual checkup. See your doctor as soon as possible.

6. Keep you in mind. Don’t lose yourself in the routines of parenthood: carpooling, food shopping, school activities, children’s sports. Keep your hobby or start a new one. You also can write a personal journal, meditate, listen to audio books, do volunteer work, or spend time outdoors. Schedule time each day to talk to another adult.

Develop a Support Team

As a parent, you can’t do everything by yourself. No one can. It’s important to have a support team of friends, family members and trusted neighbors. You can call on them when you need help for babysitting, transportation or maybe a helping hand on a project. A support team member can also be an important sounding board.

To get a handle on your support needs, make a list of people you feel you can count on. If there aren’t enough people on the list, it may be time to widen your circle of friends. Friends help each other, so look for ways that you can support your friends, too.

Most important, don’t be afraid to ask for help. People respond when families are in need. This is especially the case when families have a crisis, but it’s also true when needs are less urgent. You may not want to lean on others for help, but remember that it feels good to be able to give support.

Additional Resources

If you are looking for more specific support like food, counseling or substance abuse treatment, search the kidcentraltn.com State Services Directory.

If you have a child with a developmental disability, learn how you can find support.

Learn how you can “build a village” for support in raising your child.

Get tips for creating a “stupendous support system.” This article is written for working moms, but it should help any parent who is trying to build a support team.

Get self-care ideas that can help parents meet their physical, emotional/social, intellectual and spiritual needs.