Great parents take care of themselves
Children are an amazing gift from God. They are also, as you surely know, an incredible challenge. Our children require energy, focus, kindness, compassion and more. Parenting is truly a 24/7 responsibility. It is difficult, if not impossible, to muster up the physical and mental strength to parent effectively if we haven’t slept, haven’t exercised or eaten well, or taken time for emotional, mental and spiritual self-care.
There are so many reasons we don’t take the time we need for ourselves. Ever heard of “mom guilt?” It’s a real thing and it’s hard to take time away from family or work or all of life’s other responsibilities. We might think we just don’t have time or we feel too tired to move, think, or plan. Sometimes it’s difficult to get motivated to do anything!
But, there are so many reasons we DO need to make time to take care of our own needs. For you, this might mean pursuing a special hobby, spending time with friends or a spouse, or just being alone with your prayers and thoughts. I love to exercise, read and yes, do a little shopping. If these things make me feel better, then my children will have a happier mom. When I feel good, I’m more patient, I’m productive and I enjoy parenting my boys. Little eyes are always watching and it’s essential to model a healthy, balanced lifestyle for our kids. When we take care of ourselves, our children learn that others’ needs are important. They may have to stretch outside their own, naturally self-absorbed comfort zone to recognize that mom and dad have their own interests and activities, in addition to 24/7 parenting. What a great lesson to teach our little ones!
The Bible is filled with reminders our limits and the necessity of replinishment. Matthew 11:28-30 from the message translations says: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
When God tells us in Matthew 22:39 to “…Love your neighbor as yourself,” the message isn’t to put one’s neighbor last, on the back burner, behind all the other responsibilities! When you are too tired to move or think, then love your neighbor? No, of course not! We must love ourselves, treat ourselves well, and take time for prayer and rest. Only through intentional self-care can we be our very best selves and really great parents.
Jennifer Jacoby, WDS mom and Assistant Teacher