Home > Couples, Family Therapy > Take Care of Your Child by Taking Care of Yourself

Take Care of Your Child by Taking Care of Yourself

Raising children is hard. It is a labor of love that demands 24/7 care and energy. And in this age of geographically mobile professionals, we are often far away from the family support that generations of parents relied on. Our “village” has been replaced by paid care and busy playdate schedules. Even when all runs smoothly, it can be a demanding, frustrating, and exhausting role in parallel to its being so rewarding, fulfilling, and meaningful.

So whether you are a working or stay-at-home parent, have one children or many, a lot of family support or little, I have one important message to you – take care of yourself! Find the time to re-energize. Find the time to devote to yourself to the little hobbies or activities that give you pleasure, and to the friends and family that sustain you. Your children need a parent who is a happy and healthy caretaker.

This has become a cliché, but it is true that it is more important to insure that the time you spend with your children has quality rather than quantity. A stressed out, tired, annoyed parent is not going to be able to give a child the love that he/she deserves. A parent who does not take care of him/herself won’t be present, receptive, and enthusiastic about the time spent with his/her child. Frequent, negative interactions, because you often lose patience, snap, or get angry with your child, are far more detrimental to your child than him/her missing you for a few hours.

When couples see me for counseling, invariably they have allowed date nights and alone time to fall by the wayside. They have tacitly resigned themselves to their roles of “business partners” whose primary purpose is to raise their children. Working and managing domestic logistics become all-consuming.

These parents, before children, were able to devote love and attention to one another, and nurture their personal interests and hobbies. But now it seems insurmountable, or too much trouble, to take advantage of the free time available to them. As a result, they get burnt out and feel unattended to by their partners. A sense of alienation, resentment, and arguments can ensue. This dynamic does not go unnoticed by children and can be very damaging to their well-being. Children are dependent on their parents. They need to know that everything is all right in their parents’ world in order to feel that everything is OK in their world.

So try to find a balance between all your many obligations and your duty to take care of yourself. Give yourself license to take the time you need to re-energize. Indulge a few hours a week in the activities that give you joy. Go on dates with your partner. Take mini-vacations by yourself. Find pockets of time to nurture your body, mind, and spirit. You deserve it. And your children need it.

Categories: Couples, Family Therapy
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