Saturday, February 20, 2010

Take Time for Yourself

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A friend once attended an adoption counseling session for prospective parents of hard-to-place children.
The instructor emphasized the enormous stress the caregiver would face in helping these children find their place in the world.

“Every family has one caregiver,” the instructor cautioned the group, “and nobody takes care of the caregiver.”

He presented the message not as an accusation or indictment toward other family members, but as a recognition of group behavior.

At today’s hectic pace, caregivers can never get enough reminders about the importance of self-care. Child Development Expert and Parenting Coach Pam Dyson shares this timely reminder with us, and gives us some new, low-cost hints for parental self-care…a most important component for a healthy family structure.

Take Care of Yourself (by Pam Dyson)

If you’ve flown you’re familiar with the flight safety instructions. You probably don’t pay much attention to them because you’ve heard them so many times before. One of those instructions is crucial. “Secure your own mask before assisting others.”

This simple instruction can apply to parenting, especially to mothers. As mothers we are often so busy caring for those we love that we forget to take care of ourselves.

We tell ourselves that doing something for ourselves is taking something away from our family. In reality we end up with less of ourselves to give.

Not tending to our own needs can fuel frustration and exhaustion. We may feel resentful which can lead to mommy guilt. We then start doing even more for our children to alleviate our guilt.

If you don’t put yourself and your needs first who will? It’s probably not going to be those who benefit from your selfless giving. I recommend you look for ways to take care of yourself. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but it does have to be something that will make you feel pampered, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Here are a few of my favorites.

Go to the makeup counter of a department store and ask for a complimentary makeover. Don’t feel obligated to buy any products except for that new shade of lipstick which makes you feel pretty.

Spray your pillow case with a scented linen spray. When you fall into bed after a stressful day place your face on your pillow and take some deep breaths. I prefer lavender. It relaxes me and helps me fall asleep.

Buy a new pair of socks. Nothing rejuvenates me more than a new pair of socks. I always keep two or three new pairs in my dresser drawer and when I’ve had a stressful day I put on a pair and snuggle up in my favorite chair with a good book. Pay it forward by sending a new pair of socks anonymously to a mom you know who could use a little pampering. Include a note detailing what the socks are for. Ask that they do one thing in return. Send a new pair of socks to another mom who is in need of a little TLC.

Society doesn’t encourage us to take care of ourselves. It often tells us we’re being selfish if we do. But being able to care for others requires that we first take care of ourselves. Step back and make a priority of taking care of you. You owe it to yourself!