As parents, we tend to make sacrifices for the good of our children, even when it means sleepless nights. Unfortunately, many of us lose touch with the importance of healthy sleep for ourselves because we’re so focused on helping our little ones sleep better. But healthy sleep is important for you too, parents! For Sleep Awareness Week (April 23-29, 2017), we’ve put together some easy tips to remind you that self-care is a top priority. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup (and if you’re too tired for that metaphor, it means you’re not doing anybody any favors if you run yourself ragged and forget that you deserve care too).
Parent Self Care Tip #1: Have a Cup of Tea. Not while you’re running around the house, not when you’re trying to get the kids ready for daycare, and not when you realize you haven’t eaten food all day. Before bedtime (or in the morning), brew yourself a cup of calming herbal tea and give yourself just five minutes to sit quietly and drink it. Hide in the bathroom if you have to - but get those five minutes. This is a quick and easy way to center yourself and get in touch with your body. Where do you feel stress? Are you hungry or thirsty? Have you washed your hair recently? Just check in, and breathe, and drink your one cup of tea today. Repeat tomorrow.
Parent Self Care Tip #2: Eat Your Veggies. If you’re grabbing quick convenience food because you forgot to eat (again), take a breather and see if you can find another option for lunch. Add one serving of vegetables to your day each day for a week, and then add another serving. By focusing on healthier, nutrient-dense veggies, you can stave off hunger pangs and reduce the craving for a quick sugar boost. You know that a sugar high makes it hard for your kiddos to wind down, and it works the same for you. Next time you’re craving an easy snack, reach for veggies or something with healthy protein like a hard boiled egg or handful of nuts. Small changes to your diet will help you feel better (and sleep better) day after day.
Parent Self Care TIp #3: Take a Bath. Just a ten minute soak can help you center and focus on yourself, like the cup of herbal tea. You can even combine the two tips and have a cup of tea in the bath. We know, crazy, right! Lock that bathroom door and take a quiet moment to yourself while you soak in a warm bath. Add epsom salt for a relaxing muscle soak that will provide natural magnesium for easier sleep.
Parent Self Care Tip #4: Take Your Vitamins. We know it’s impossible to have a Pinterest-perfect meal plan every day. And we know a vitamin won’t fill all your nutritional voids. But at the very least, a high quality multivitamin can help provide vital micronutrients your body might be lacking (which show up in cravings for junk food). Magnesium, potassium, and Vitamin D are all linked to healthy sleep, so grab a multi with your breakfast to build on this healthier habit.
Parent Self Care Tip #5: Practice Breathing Exercises. Mindful breathing can help you get through the stressful moments in your day and can help you relax when your mind is racing at bedtime. Breathe in deeply through your nose for a count of four, hold for four, and release through your mouth for four. Repeat until you are calm and relaxed, or even until you fall asleep. (Tip: You can even teach this method to your children to help them calm down in stressful situations).
Parent Self Care Tip #6: Read Something You Enjoy. Some people’s self care comes from reading non-fiction, self-help, self-development, or religious books. Other people’s self care comes from reading a fiction or fantasy adventure. Whichever you prefer, reading a chapter each day can help you to unwind and enjoy something YOU like to do that doesn’t center around caring for everyone else. Reading can be part of your waking or bedtime routine (but be careful with e-readers at bedtime, as the screen’s light can interrupt your healthy sleep patterns).
Parent Self Care Tip #7: Exercise. Moving your body throughout the day helps promote healthier sleep at night, but late night workouts might have the opposite effect and wake you up. However, the best time of day to exercise is when you’ll actually do it, so take advantage of your energy levels and fit in a few minutes of exercise to promote a healthier mind and body.
Not everyone’s self care is the same, and what YOU personally need to recharge your mind and body might be totally different from someone else, even your spouse. As you browse this list of seven tips to promote self care, we hope you’ll find one or two ideas that speak to you. Try them out and let us know if they help!