We’re all told, time and again, as we carry the little bump in our bellies that will one day become a fully functioning human being with thoughts, dreams and aspirations of their own. We’re told by friends, family and parents. We’re told words to the effect of, “When that baby’s born, everything’s going to change”. They’re right, of course they are. The birth of your children usually heralds a top-down reorganisation of the psyche as well as being a complete paradigm shift. There’s a sense that you in yourself are reborn as your baby is born. As soon as you stare down at that wriggling bundle of wonder the problems that seemed enormous and insurmountable seem trivial, and your sole priority becomes taking care of this little person whoever they turn out to be.
While this is normal, understandable and even noble, too many parents today take it too far. This is one of those situations where there’s no nobility in sacrifice. Parents owe it to themselves, their partners and their children to take good care of themselves physically and psychologically. Being a parent may redefine the parameters of who you are, but that shouldn’t mean that the sum total of your life is reduced to nothing more than being a parent. You still deserve to be a daughter, son, sibling, friend, colleague, boss and lover. Here are some ways in which all parents can and should take care of themselves and the ways in which it will actually help and inform their parenting. If you don’t start now, it’ll only become harder as you get older.
Get plenty of sleep
Easier said than done, right? Nonetheless, there are many, many reasons why you need to make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep (the gold standard is 7-9 hours a day). Indeed, if you fail to get enough sleep, you can impair your cognitive function and make you emotionally volatile. That’s a seriously dangerous combination to expose your child to! Moreover, getting plenty of sleep will help you to stay looking and feeling young and attractive. Beauty sleep is a matter of scientific fact! While we sleep, our bodies produce human growth hormones which repair and rebuild muscle tissue, helping our bodies to stay lean and recover from exercise while reducing our risk of injury. Sleep also encourages our skin and hair to get the hydration, nourishment and collagen that they need to stay youthful and lustrous. If you’re consistently struggling to get enough sleep you may need to rethink your diet, your lifestyle choices and your mattress. Check out this Eve and Simba mattress review to get an idea of what you should be looking for. My personal recommendation is a base of pocket springs with a memory foam topper. This will give you the perfect balance between comfort and support.
Of course, it’s all too easy to reach for the ready made additive riddled convenience foods when you’re a busy parent, but this is to do a disservice to yourself and your child. Even the busiest parents can find the time to prepare a home cooked meal that’s full of fresh veggies, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins. Kids are adept at identifying hypocrisy in their parents’ lifestyle habits and if you expect your kids to eat their veggies when you’re not loading up on them yourself, you may be in for a shock. Moreover, eating a well balanced diet and keeping well hydrated will keep you looking and feeling young and healthy while keeping your energy levels consistent and keeping your hormones well balanced so that you’re alert, full of energy and in a stable mood whatever the busy life of a parent throws at you.
Get plenty of exercise
Just as even the busiest parents have no excuse not to ensure that they’re well fed and nourished, neither do they have any excuse to stop leading an active lifestyle when their kids are born (so long as they’ve recovered from the birthing process of course. Regular exercise is great for facilitating mental health and getting enough quality sleep not to mention the obvious self esteem benefits of keeping your body healthy.
Don’t let your kids make you a hermit. Indeed, your child may well be a passport to new friendships and social groups. There’s something unique and reassuring about bonding with other parents over the shared experience of doing what you can to ensure your kids have the best lives possible. You and your partner both deserve to have active social lives among other parents and your regular circle of friends (and of course, each other). If you don’t make time for date nights, you time and opportunities to let your hair down, you could end up harboring a dangerous and unhealthy resentment of your kids… Nobody needs that!