Parents these days are pulled in so many directions. Between work, child care, social and community commitments it can be very difficult to pencil in time for self-care. However, we know how important it is that we care for ourselves so that we can take the best care of our children, and set a good example of what a healthy lifestyle looks like. It’s just like the safety announcement you hear before take off on any flight, “put your own oxygen mask on before assisting other passengers.” When parents set the example of taking good care of themselves through diet, exercise, regular sleep, and well-managed stress, your children are watching and will use that as a reference point for their own care as they age.
For some parents, this may feel selfish, and it may be a practice that you have to get used to and it will look different for everyone. For some, it will mean going to bed earlier so you can get up to exercise before work. For others, it may involve a more drastic lifestyle change. But either way, your children will notice and your family will benefit.
Your kids hear you speak and they see the way you react to tough situations. When you gossip with your friends, yell at strangers in traffic, or even speak harshly to your spouse or other family members, they hear it all. No one is perfect, and no one expects you to succeed at this all the time, but as you are trying to teach your children about kindness, remember that the very best way to instill these traits is by leading by example. And remember, you will mess up, we all do. But just as you ask your children to admit their wrongs and apologize for them, it’s a great practice for parents to get into as well.
Resilience Through Struggle
Whether at work, at home, or in your relationships, no one wins every time. We all have our highs and our lows, and while our children bear witness to all of our successes, and may be inspired by them, they also see our failures and how we overcome them. It’s easy to hide these things from our family to protect them from the reality of how hard life can become, but knowing that mom and dad aren’t perfect, but they’re resilient will bring them strength. Don’t hesitate to allow your children in on your successes and failures.
As parents, we think a lot about what our children need to grow up to be strong, healthy, and resilient adults. And often it’s easy to overlook that what our children need most is for us, as parents, to take care of ourselves. For more parenting tips, or information about how St. Barnabas’ healthy community can benefit your family, contact us today.