There’s an old saying “you can’t pour from an empty vessel”. It’s hard to be present with your children and other family members if you can’t be present with yourself. The answer is time-out for parents.
You’ve probably noticed that your children seem to act out more when you are tired. They sense the tension in you, and like little sponges, will take it in, and mirror it back to you. The behaviours you are seeing are generally their response to your stress levels.
Time-Out for Parents
If you’re feeling tense, it’s important to take some time out for yourself. You’re probably facing some parenting challenges that you never expected to have to deal with. It’s OK not to be perfect, and to remind yourself that you’re doing your best.
If you’ve ever travelled on a plane, you will remember being told to put on your own oxygen mask before helping your children. The children will follow your example. Showing your children how you look after yourself when feeling stressed is just as important.
Tips for Parent Self Care
The first step in changing your children’s behaviour is to take time-out for yourself. This is your chance to relax and unwind. Some things you might like to try include:
- Relax your jaw
- Wriggle your shoulders
- Release your neck muscles
- Take a deep breath into your belly, and exhale slowly
- Shake your body. This can be a full body shake, starting with your legs, moving through your torso, into your arms, shoulders, and neck area.
- Dance, sing, make music and find something to laugh about (even if it is just yourself doing the full body shake).
Time-out for Parents as Part of your Regular Routine
Looking after yourself is not an indulgence. It is essential in order to be able to be present with your family. The good news is that when one person in a group (or family) takes steps to heal themselves, the impact will flow on to those around them.
Some suggestions for bringing self-care into your regular routine include:
- Going for a walk
- Creating a daily/weekly routine
- Avoiding social media and news reports if they are distressing you
- Staying connected (virtually if necessary) with friends and family
- Finding someone to hug
- Every evening, finding three things from your day to be grateful for
The Next Step
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s OK to ask for help. Sharing your feelings can make big worries seem smaller and more controllable.
Couples counselling can help you to improve your communication, and reduce your stress levels. The plus is that by reducing your reduced stress levels, you can improve relationships for your whole family. There’s no shame in asking for help.
As a therapist, I offer a place where you can feel seen, heard and understood. Rather than offering advice, or telling you what to do, my aim is to help you to tune into what you are experiencing. Recognising that your body knows best, I will help you to access your natural ability for processing your stress.
My aim is to help you to raise happy, healthy children who are able to achieve to their potential and find their place in the world.
A PACFA accredited Holistic Counsellor and Psychotherapist, Rosalind is also a Registered NDIS Provider, Circle of Security Facilitator and approved Victims Services Counsellor.
Sessions are available in person at Moruya South Head, and online via zoom.