April is Stress Awareness Month – a month dedicated to addressing the causes of modern stress and raising awareness on the impact it can have on our health. Stress Awareness Month also highlights the steps we can take to reduce the causes of stress in our lives.
Being a parent is incredibly rewarding but can also be incredibly hard. Often, the stresses of parenting can be amplified when you are a single parent, particularly if you have your children with you most or all of the time. It can feel almost impossible to get a moment by yourself to go to the toilet, let alone a couple of hours to pop to the gym, meet up with friends or take up a new hobby.
What is self-care?
Self-care can encompass many things – but in broad terms it refers to looking after your personal needs. It’s about taking care of yourself so that you can be the best parent you can be.
There are 5 different types of self-care – but don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it may seem. We’ll be sharing our top tips to address all of these in simple but effective ways below.
What are the signs that you are in need of self-care?
By not looking after your own needs effectively you may start to feel overwhelmed, stressed and find yourself tearful or snappy with the kids. You may also feel constantly exhausted regardless of how much sleep you have.
Self-care tips for single parents:
Schedule time for you
Schedule time to do something for yourself – e.g. a relaxing bath when the kids are in bed.
You can also try to create more time for yourself by getting up a bit earlier than your kids. We know this tip might not be for everyone and waking up early isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth it! You could do this a couple of times a week to enjoy some peace – meditate, yoga, or read a book. It’s important to make time for self-care, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day.
Ask for help
As a single parent you wear a lot of hats. You are the cook, the cleaner, the chauffeur and the nurse just to name a few. You are always on hand to help – but what about when you need help? Don’t be afraid to reach out to your support bubble, whether that’s friends, family or neighbours. They say it takes a village to raise a child, you don’t have to do this alone!
Stop putting so much pressure on yourself
It can be tough being a single parent without feeling like you have to do everything on your own. Many single parents put all the pressure on themselves to be perfect and manage everything single handedly – but often that’s not realistic and will lead to burn out.
Don’t be afraid to do things that make your life easier. If you need a break from cooking and order a takeaway or need some time to yourself so get a babysitter – that doesn’t make you a bad parent! By looking after your needs, you will be a happier and ultimately better parent.
Create a sacred space in your home just for you
This is your place of calm and peace – somewhere you can retreat to when you need to reenergise without worrying about tripping over toys or being surrounded by noise and mess. Whether that’s your bedroom or another area in your home, keep it just for you. Tidy up and de-clutter, perhaps add some candles or hang your favourite photos to create a positive space for only you.
Talk to a professional
If you find that you are struggling and need professional support, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist, counsellor, coach or your GP.