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New Beginnings: Is Self Care Enough?

New Beginnings: Is Self Care Enough?

When Self- Care Isn’t Enough, Try Self-Compassion Instead.

As parents and caregivers, we hear a lot about self-care. And book stores, social media, spas, and advertisements all seem to have a different idea of what that means. While I certainly agree that we can benefit from relaxing and engaging in activities the we love, manicures, movie night, or a game of golf are not enough to address the struggles faced today.

We may be the most self-aware (critical) of any generation of parents so far. We have greater worries and fears. We are often balancing multiple roles, and we have high expectations of ourselves and kids. The pace of our lives is so fast and so burdened with activities that as a result, our kids are more stressed, anxious, and emotional than ever before. The most effective response to this is self-compassion – a true connection, empathy, and understanding of ourselves in our role as parents. Research has shown that parents who take even a few moments a day to connect with themselves, through mindfulness, stillness, prayer, or meditation are more available to their kids when needed. They are also better able to help their kids develop the skills they need to regulate their own emotions. Plus, it just feels Good!

If you are like me or the parents I work with, you are constantly criticizing yourself. “What is wrong with me?” “Well that was a beautiful mom moment!” “I have no idea what I am doing!” “Well I really blew that one!”. We say things to ourselves that we would never say to someone else. Self-compassion is a combination of mindfulness, kindness, and understanding common humanity.

Take a few minutes and breathe. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling and thinking. What is my body trying to tell me?” Keep breathing. Find postures, positions, words, sounds, smells, and tastes that comfort you. I like to sit with my hand on my heart, do the yoga child’s pose, or simply hold a warm drink. Think of what you would say to a friend. “It is going to be okay.” “This is really hard.” “We all make mistakes.” “You can make this right.” “You did the best you could.” Say it out loud to yourself.

You are not alone. We are all human and in this together. We make mistakes. We become aware, and we do better next time. Creating this pattern of self care and compassion will demonstrate for our kids how to manage stress and help calm ourselves. We can better meet our children’s needs and all they really need is us.

Dana Libby, Child and Family Therapist, Early Years Team Vanier Children’s Services For the Middlesex-London Community Early Years Partnership


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