Often as parents, all your focus and attention can go on your children, making sure they’re alright. Understandably your children are your first priority, but with this focus, it can be easy to lose sight of your own self-care needs.
Looking after your own mental health tends to come last on the long list of things to do.
While this is understandable, it isn’t sustainable or useful in the long run. In order to be able to support young people effectively parents need to be in a good place themselves.
You may notice when you are tired, stressed or feeling run down, this can have a knock-on impact on the dynamics and relationships in the household. This can then increase tensions and arguments.
Often when we meet young people at Jigsaw who are struggling with dealing with anger or with ‘bad behaviour’ at home, we find that parents are equally stressed and struggling.
Paying attention to your own mental health and wellbeing as a parent is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
So, how can you support your own mental health?
Give yourself a break
Acknowledge that being a parent, particularly of teenagers, is not easy. There are no rule books and sometimes it’s easy to get it wrong. Be kind to yourself and if you find yourself being the kind of parent you don’t want to be, take a step back and focus on changes that could be made. Don’t beat yourself up.
Taking time for yourself
The idea of ‘me time’ gets promoted a lot, but as a parent, particularly if you have younger children in the household, it can be hard to find time for this. Taking an hour or two to spend time doing something you love or find relaxing can make a big difference.
If you struggle to find chunks of time, try to snatch moments throughout the day. Can you spend a few minutes really savouring a cup of coffee? In the car can you listen to an enjoyable podcast? Is there time to have a relaxing bath in the evenings? Try to identify some time for yourself, to do something that you enjoy.