There are few moments as life-altering as becoming a parent. Suddenly, all you have known changes. You are responsible for another human being. It’s a beautiful journey but also a path paved with challenges, sleepless nights, and a seemingly endless to-do list (wait for the extra murals to kick in during primary school. Amidst the journey of raising children, prioritise your mental health
- Embrace Self-Compassion: Parenthood doesn’t come with a manual, and no one is perfect. Be kind to yourselves. Understand that making mistakes and learning from them is part of the journey. You’re doing your best, and that’s what truly matters.
- Get Help: Don’t be afraid to lean on friends, family, or support groups (there are plenty online too). Sharing your experiences, doubts, and fears can be incredibly therapeutic. You’ll quickly realise you’re not alone in your struggles.
- Prioritise Sleep: Adequate sleep is a cornerstone of good mental health. Although it can be challenging with young children and babies, establish a sleep routine and take turns with your partner for night shifts. Furthermore, if you have to choose between doing the laundry or getting a nap while your baby is napping, choose the rest…you can wear your baby and load the washing machine once the baby wakes up. (National Sleep Foundation, 2020)
- Set Boundaries: It’s essential to establish boundaries, not only with your children but also with your time and energy. Carve out moments for yourselves, even if it’s just for a short walk or a cup of tea alone – be your partner’s support and help one another schedule alone time. You may not have done so before, but ask your partner to pick up on the chores or cooking where necessary. You’re a team, work together.
- Enhance your Mental Fitness: Incorporate mindfulness and relaxation techniques into your daily routine. Breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga can help you stay grounded and reduce stress. You don’t have to go from zero to overnight mindful hero. Start with simple breathing exercises and do them for a few minutes daily.
- Maintain a Supportive Partnership: Communication is vital. Maintain an open and honest dialogue about your emotions and needs with your partner. Working together as a team strengthens your bond and eases the parenting journey. This requires vulnerability, non-judgement and curiosity. No blaming is necessary; just openness and asking how to support one another.
- Self-Care is Not Selfish: Remember that taking care of yourself isn’t selfish; it’s necessary. Find activities you enjoy, whether reading, painting, or a hobby and make time for them regularly. (Ryan & Deci, 2001)
- Stay Active: Physical activity releases endorphins, which can improve your mood. Make exercise part of your routine, whether a family walk, a run, or dancing in the living room.
- Ask the Pros: If your mental wellness is seriously compromised, seek professional help. Therapists and counsellors can provide valuable guidance and support.
- Celebrate Small Wins: Parenting is a series of small victories. Celebrate these wins, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Recognise your accomplishments as parents.
- Keep Perspective: Remember that the challenging moments will pass. Children grow and change rapidly, and what seems overwhelming today may not be a concern tomorrow.
- Learn to Say No: You can’t do it all. Please don’t do it all. Don’t overextend yourselves with commitments and obligations. Prioritise what truly matters to your family.
- Stay Connected: Maintain connections with friends and engage in adult conversations. Socialising and sharing experiences with others can be refreshing. They give you a good perspective when you need it most.
- Gratitude and Positivity: Cultivate a sense of appreciation for the precious moments you share with your children. Focus on the positive aspects of parenthood and cherish these memories.
By taking care of yourselves, you’ll be happier, healthier, and better equipped to provide the love and support your children need. Parenthood is a journey; like any adventure, it has its ups and downs. Embrace the challenges and celebrate the joys, for they are all part of the beautiful tapestry of family life.