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As a mom, how often have you felt overwhelmed and overworked in your life? Most moms will acknowledge the responsibility that is motherhood, and no matter how much help you have, it seems mothers are hardwired to carry the weight of motherhood physically. All the parts you can see and the parts you can’t see. Even if you manage to share the load with your other parent, husband, partner, chances are most moms will still feel the stress that comes with parenthood.

“A mom’s work is never done.”

More so now, during a global pandemic, moms and dads alike often forgo what they need themselves as they strive to provide for their family and keep everyone happy, safe, and healthy. Sadly, this means as parents, more often than not, your needs come last. But all the stress, worry, heartache, and mental juggling of tasks can take its toll on your mental and physical health.

Even those pushed for time need to take some time to make sure they don’t burn out and make themselves ill. Your family needs you to be healthy, and this means looking after yourself as much as everyone else. Even if you feel like you don’t have the time or you shouldn’t. Self-care needs to be standard and not classed as a luxurious treat.

Self-care can simply be the act of putting makeup or completing a full skincare routine with cream, oils, and face masks. Check out these FAQs on the best type of oils to use for your skin. It can be reading a book or taking a long hot bath in peace. It doesn’t matter what it is or how often you do it, as long as you do it, and it makes you feel better.

Accept help

You may be able to do it all on your own with no help, but that doesn’t mean you should. New moms, let someone take over the small tasks for you. Sure, you may not want to leave your new baby, but having someone come over to help clean up, put the dishwasher on or washing machine or simply make you a hot drink and some food can be a huge help during those first weeks of getting used to life as a new parent.

But as your family grows, learn to accept the help for what it is and not as an attack on you and your parenting skills. Having the kids go for a playdate for an hour or two can give you breathing space to do something you need to do. Be it a nap, drink a hot coffee or binge watch that show on Netflix everyone is talking about. If it makes you feel better, do it and don’t punish yourself for accepting help – a happy parent is a much better parent, don’t you think?

Eat well

How often have you tricked your child into eating healthy food to make sure they are getting all their vitamins and minerals? When was the last time you checked to make sure you were getting all of yours? Neglecting your diet can lead to unhealthy choices and a lack of energy as your body isn’t getting what it needs. If you are struggling with choosing the right foods, try meal planning, and prepping to make sure you have healthy meal options available at all times.

Supplements can help boost your required daily intake but not replace them. You shouldn’t rely on vitamin supplements to get what your body needs each day. Keep a fruit salad prepared in the fridge for a go-to snack or have healthy nuts and seeds for you to snack on during the day. Look after your body, and it will look after you. After all, as a busy parent, you need all the energy you can get.

Sleep

Easier than it looks. Parents sleep if their kids sleep at night. And if they don’t, coffee is your best friend! The baby and toddler years can be rough when it comes to sleep deprivation – especially if other parents brag about how their child sleeps through the night! You may feel like you will never get a good night’s sleep again. But little things can be done to help you fall asleep faster and make the most of the time you do have to sleep.

“Sleep when the baby sleeps” Possibly one of the more ridiculous things to say to parents. As much as you may want to nap, chances are you will have other things that need taking care of instead.

Try to find a good bedtime routine that works for you and your family. Take note of advice such as removing electronics from the bedroom, keeping the tv off at night, and having a bath before bed. Practicing yoga can help to relax you as can meditation if you can find time to get into the right mind space for it to be effective. Lavender works wonders for inducing a calming night’s sleep – for you and children too, as can using a sleep mask and the right bedding for your bedroom for any given season. Exercising in the evening can help you to burn off any pent up energy and allow you enough of a release to sleep better at night. But, working out too close to bedtime will have the complete opposite effect—trial and error but always worth trying out.

Exercise

Taking the baby out for a walk in their stroller is exercise, as is chasing a toddler around the local park or even jumping in the pool with the family on a hot summer day. It isn’t all about hitting the gym and pushing yourself as hard as you can. But if that is what works for you, then it can be that—a dance class with your friends or a neighborhood basketball game. Get out, get moving, and raise your heartbeat. The wonders those feel-good endorphins you release when you workout can have considerable benefits to your physical and mental health.

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Awareness of mental health issues is on the rise and it’s becoming clear that a lot of young people suffer from conditions like anxiety and depression. That’s why it’s so important that parents educate themselves about the symptoms of mental health issues and watch out for them in their children. If you can pick up on the signs early on and help your child to find the support that they need, you can deal with the problem before it gets a lot worse.

But parents don’t just need to think about their children, they need to think about themselves as well. Becoming a parent is an incredibly stressful time and a lot of new parents struggle with postnatal depression. The stress of raising a family also means that a lot of parents are working too hard and neglecting self-care. If you don’t look after yourself, you increase your risk of mental health issues and that makes it harder for you to be an effective parent. If you have been neglecting your own mental health, these are some of the most important ways that you can look after it. 

Don’t Downplay Your Symptoms 

It’s so easy for people to downplay their symptoms because they buy into a lot of the damaging language about mental health. Mental health issues are often marginalized and people talk of how depressed they are when they just mean that they had a stressful day, or they claim to have OCD because they are a neat and tidy person. There are also people out there that will tell you to just get over it and suck it up. Life is hard, they’ll say, that’s just the way it is. The problem with this kind of language is that it assumes that a diagnosed mental health issue is no different to the normal ups and downs that we all have, which isn’t the case at all. It’s fine if you feel stressed and a bit down every so often, but it’s not fine if you feel like that constantly and you never have the energy to do anything. If you notice the symptoms of a mental health issue, don’t downplay them and don’t let others convince you that things are fine when they aren’t. Always seek professional advice if you are not sure. 

Take Days Off 

Being a parent is a full-time job and you need to take some days off from time to time. But a lot of new parents think that asking for help means admitting defeat, and they worry that people will judge them and think that they can’t handle being a parent. But that isn’t the case at all, and it’s perfectly reasonable to take some time off for yourself. When you do get a day to yourself, you should spend it doing something relaxing like a spa day (click the link to learn more about finding the best ones) or engaging in one of your hobbies. You can use the time to catch up on chores if you like, but remember that you’re supposed to be having a day off, and that still works. Asking a family member or friend to watch the kids for a day every now and again will make such a huge difference to your mental health. 

Get Outside 

New parents often end up spending a lot of time inside and they rarely have a chance to get out of the house. But that isn’t good for a few reasons. It can be very isolating and being stuck in the same environment all the time isn’t great for your mental health. It’s not great for your child either because they need to start experiencing the outdoors. Studies show that spending time outside can improve your mental and physical health, so it’s important that you don’t stay shut up indoors all the time. Even a short walk each day will make a big difference. 

Eat Properly 

When your kids get older and you all start eating meals together, it’s easy to keep up with healthy eating. But new parents find that they spend so much time looking after their child that they don’t have time to prepare proper meals for themselves, and that’s not good. If you are eating a lot of unhealthy convenience foods, you lack a lot of important nutrition and you will struggle to find the energy to do things. A bad diet is always bad for your mental health, so it’s important that you eat fresh, healthy food. 

As a new parent, it’s important that you follow these simple tips so you can manage your own mental health effectively.

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