The Importance Of Giving Yourself A “Parent MOT”

Is there any way of skirting around the issue? Being a parent is tough, anyone who has spent an afternoon with a child will attest to the physical and mental struggle that comes with looking after this most precious of cargo. So, it begs the question, what should parents do, not just to look after their children, but to look after themselves? The issue of mental health is a very hot topic and has been for some time, and slowly, there are more and more people coming out of the woodwork, and various aspects of mental health are being discussed, including postnatal depression in fathers, anxiety as a new parent, and many others. Some parents have all the support they could ever want, yet others are left to struggle on, and for these parents, is there a way of looking after yourself as well as you would look after your child? The answer lies in giving yourself an MOT.

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Addressing Self-care

It’s something that we’ve seen in people who look after children with special needs, or people who look after their elderly parents full-time, they are not doing everything they can to address how well they are looking after themselves. There is a lot of support for carers who are struggling to get by, and it’s in these examples that we can is a valuable insight into how to look after yourself as a parent. The first thing you need to do is take a long hard look at how well you’re looking after yourself. Now, this can be very difficult, especially when you’ve lost all sense of perspective, which is why you need to do a comparison test. Look at yourself now, and look at a picture of yourself before your child was born. Granted, there will be superficial changes, but you will understand, as soon as you see this picture, what has fundamentally changed for the worse. And from there, you can begin to address these problems. The first thing you will have thought of is that you look tired. Yes, this is par for the course, but let’s break it down further. Why you tired? Is it because once your child has gone to bed, you decide to stay up with a box set, or is it because your child doesn’t sleep? In answering these fundamental questions, and breaking down the real reasons behind why you feel the way you do, and then you will begin to start solving the problem. The answer may be in the fact that you’re trying to reclaim some part of what you used to do before your child was born. But, in doing this, are you succeeding more in burning the candle at both ends, rather than reclaiming any sense of what you used to do? As a new parent, it’s more important to make sure you have the tools at your disposal to look after yourself, rather than trying to reclaim the past.

Making Healthy Choices

It’s always easier said than done as a new parent, but the answer lies in making healthy lifestyle choices, and it’s in these approaches that you will form new habits. Instead of reaching for the takeaway menu, or buying a microwave meal on the way home, because they are easier, would it be better for you to batch cook a meal full of nutrients and vitamins that you can portion up and put in the freezer? These are meals you can microwave, but at least you know what’s gone into them, so you are able to get an adequate amount of nutrients. This is your baseline for achieving basic quality health. If there are ongoing health issues that no amount of healthy eating is going to fix, then you need to swallow your pride and go to the doctors. You never know, you may be deficient in a certain mineral or vitamin, and you may get prescribed something that will make you feel like a new person. It’s these things that we tend to ignore because we’ve got something more important than ourselves to look after. This is a very dangerous pattern to get into. If health issues creep up, they can start off as something little but could grow over time. This is why it’s important for you to give yourself an MOT on a regular basis. This means regular health checkups with the doctor. You never know, they may have discovered something that requires urgent attention, something like hormone replacement therapy is a common issue in some parents who have been fighting against ill health for way too long. In making healthy choices, it’s all about one simple thing, listening to your body. You know how much better you feel once you’ve had a luxurious afternoon nap, and while this may be one of the major issues you face as a parent, there could be countless others.

The Idea Of Recharging

This is something that most parents would scoff at, time to have some well-earned rest and recuperation. Because, as every parent says, it’s a 24/7 job, which it is, even if your child is staying with their grandparents. But you need to allow yourself the luxury of a break, even if you can’t do it in the physical sense, the mental break from your concerns and anxieties is the most important thing to make you feel rejuvenated. This means finding the right methods of recharging your brain that is beneficial to you. This could be anything, but in the modern world where we are more inclined to medicate our anxieties, the better proposal would be to manage these anxieties. This can mean a lot of confrontation in some ways, but there are things that people are doing to help manage their emotions and mental health that require minimal time. These are things like meditation, the emotional freedom technique, mindfulness, heart rate variability, or simply, having 10 minutes to do 3 rounds of 30 deep breaths. When you feel stressed and anxious, you breathe shallowly, and you owe it to yourself to do something that you feel the benefits of. This can take some time, but once you have found the right one, you will better manage your emotions and frame of mind, meaning you are going to be a better parent and person as a result.

We don’t look at what we need when we are looking after someone, and many may feel guilty for even considering the thought, but think about it in this way, if you are not running in optimum health to look after your child, is your child as well cared for as you think? Much like a car that is struggling, wouldn’t you try to fix it?

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Julian Caldwell

Julian Caldwell

Julian Ivey-Caldwell founded GetConnectDAD with one simple goal: Connect more families to their kids. Julian works a day job and spends his evenings (after the family retires) continuing to grow this platform. Because he travels a great deal for his “day job,” he is intensely focused on trying to find better ways for fathers and mothers who work long hours, different hours, or unusual hours find better ways to be engaged.

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