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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
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Take Care of Yourself so That You Can Take Care of Your Kids

June 2002

 

Being a good parent is something we all stress over. It is a prime concern of ours. What could possibly be more important in our lives than taking care of our children and making sure that they are happy, well fed, nurtured and loved? But how can we possibly do a good job if we are so stressed that we are not even sure which end is up? The best way that we can be a good parent is to be good to ourselves!

 

Children are wonderful, miraculous people who can suck all of our energy right out of us. We are not a bottomless pit of bubbling energy. There is a finite amount. If we give all of our energy to our families, we will not have anything left over for ourselves, or the next family member that asks.

 

We are all better parents if we allow ourselves some time. Time that is spent taking care of us. There are great many things that we can do that can help us to re-charge, many of them are easy to do, if only you persuade yourself that you are valuable enough to spend time on.

 

Take some time off on a weekly basis. Sometimes the time off can be as simple as soaking in a hot tub after the children have gone to sleep. Taking fifteen minutes, or more, to soak in tub can be rejuvenating. Who knows, you might even get a good night sleep after that! Make a deal with your spouse, you get a day, or an afternoon to do whatever you want without children and then he gets the same thing. And whether that means that you get to sit and read a book uninterrupted or play on the computer or watch the big game, you get the day. Then your spouse gets to do whatever he wants to do. Make it equitable, same amount of time for each of you! If you do not have partner who is willing to take turns, or you simply do not have a spouse, ask a friend to take turns. You will take all the kids for one day, and then she takes all the kids the next. Just make sure that you like all the children that you are dealing with or you might get even more stressed out!

 

Play groups are a wonderful invention. The children get to play and you get to visit with other parents who will help assuage your fears that you are doing something terrible with your children. You will find out that you are normal and so are your children. It will also allow you to make some good connections to with other moms that might want to switch days off!

Work out with your partner to do what my husband and I call tag-team parenting. When ever one of you starts to get to stressed, the other one steps in, you go to another room and relax and breathe. When he is about to blow, tag up again and it’s his turn to breathe.

 

But most of all remember to pamper yourself! Whether it’s a mom’s night out or sitting outside and watching the stars, those five, ten, or fifteen minutes that we give to ourselves, allow us to laugh when our children come in covered with mud and wearing the brand new, expensive outfit, rather than cry and scream. And aren’t our children worth that?

 

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