Stem4 is a UK-based charity that supports teenage mental health. You might think that’s a bit random for us to bring up in our post celebrating Parent Mental Health Day. But Stem4 understands that for parents to best support their kids and teens, they need to take care of themselves, too. So they founded this day of awareness.
On Parent Mental Health Day today, we want to celebrate guardians in all their iterations — and help you make some time for yourselves.
Why parents’ mental healthcare can be hard
As a parent, putting your child before yourself might come naturally. Often, parents are celebrated when they make sacrifices for the betterment of their kids, and doing so can make you feel good as well.
But you need to ensure you’re making time for yourself and prioritizing your own needs. If you don’t, you could wind up with parental burnout.
If you’ve flown recently, you may remember the flight attendant’s safety instructions. They very specifically tell you to put on your oxygen mask before helping your child with theirs. That’s a powerful metaphor for parenthood. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Finding time for self-care
To celebrate Parent Mental Health Day today, we have a challenge for you. Pull out your calendar and find some time before the end of February when you can carve out at least a couple of hours just for yourself. If you have a partner, you may want to arrange something with them. If you don’t, call in whomever you need to take the kids: your parent, a friend, a go-to babysitter. Get something in the works.
Then, when that chunk of time rolls around, you’ve reached the fun part. What sounds best to you right in that moment? Maybe it’s meditation and a yoga class. Maybe it’s calling up a friend for lunch. You might want to catch up on a project that’s been hanging over your head, or simply rest. You could go for a walk or do some journaling.
This is your chance to check in with yourself and figure out what your body, mind, and spirit need. Self-care means creating and holding space for yourself, which can be a lot more challenging when you have children.
You might use the tail end of your allotted time to make a plan for future self-care moments. You could commit to going to a class you love once a week (e.g. Pilates, cooking), for example.
You could even commit to sharing your parental trials and triumphs within an online supportive space — like the one our friends at SHE RECOVERS provide to hold space for recovering Mothers of High-Needs Children. Think of Parent Mental Health Day as an opportunity for you as a guardian to practice self-care by sharing your story with other like-hearted women and nonbinary folx who are also looking for connection, support, and empowerment.
Ultimately, use today to find what works for you and your family.
Taking care of yourself means you’re in the best position to be the parent your kids need. It’s not selfish, it’s critical. On Parent Mental Health Day today, check in and make a plan to give yourself the same love and attention you give your children or teens.
And if you want a sweet way to treat yourself, you know we’ve got a suggestion: delicious cookie dough you can eat straight from the fridge. Keeping a little Doughp on hand can give you an easy way to savor a moment to yourself. If you’re a new parent, you might even send yourself our new baby gift box, complete with everything you need to put a smile on your face: two flavors of cookie dough, confetti, stickers, and a fun note card. Because you absolutely deserve it.