Ask Dr. Julie / Parenting

Parents Need TLC Too!…Self-Care Tips for Busy Parents

In celebration of July’s National Parent’s Day, I’d like to send out some gratitude for my parents but I’d like to also send out some ‘take care of yourselves’ tips for all the hardworking loving parents out there…you deserve it!

I know that when you’re a parent, your priorities and focus in life frequently fall on your children first and yourself second. So, what are some easy quick ways to focus on your own health while not sacrificing too much time away from the wellbeing of your kids?

Anyone who knows me knows that I think what we eat is the ultimate foundation of our health. Therefore, what we cook and eat is something that I feel is important for everyone. Whether you are a parent who cooks or one who doesn’t have time to cook, a quick way to make sure you and your kids are eating healthy is to make sure every meal starts with a mixed green salad with some other vegetables thrown on top like tomatoes or cucumbers or carrots etc. A dressing of healthy olive oil or avocado oil with balsamic or apple cider vinegar would be an easy way to ensure basic fundamental nutrients are in both your diet and that of your kids. If you don’t have time to cook and you order out, if you simply add this one step to your meals, you’ll be ensuring at least this one aspect of the meal will be nutrient rich and anti-inflammatory.

Exercise frequently can seem like a luxury because the time you would need to do it seems like a luxury that you don’t have. However, exercise is essential for keeping your mood and energy up, your bowels working well, your sleep being high quality, and your weight in the normal healthy range. If you don’t have time to get to the gym, it’s ok…try taking 5 minute breaks at work and running/walking the stairs a few times, dancing around the kitchen to cook music while cooking or while you’re cleaning the house or doing laundry, or just doing squats or push-ups or abdominal crunches during the show segments and taking quick breaks during commercials or vice versa if you are just starting out with being active. There are options throughout the day to add more activity in such as walking farther in parking lot or walking the dog farther etc. All I’m saying is that if you stay active, you’ll feel less anxious and you’ll sleep better and both factors will help you have more patience with your kids and your life stressors.

Time out for your kids might be a negative thing, but for you, it doesn’t have to be. Consider having a quiet area where you can go and shut the door and put on aromatherapy and relaxing music and dim the lights. My patients in my integrative medicine clinic in San Jose, CA, tell me that they love this suggestion. If you are able to find peace and quiet for 5 minutes sometimes, it can make all the difference in how you approach your stressors…but more importantly, it makes a huge impact on the toll stress has on your overall health. If you are able to incorporate 5-10 minutes in your ‘happy place’ several times per day, it means that as your stress levels rise, you can take a breather and lower it again so that it isn’t high all day long every day and you get to help your body decompress from the stress.

While you may love your kids, having an inner core of health and balance is important so that you can do everything you need to do for your kids without sacrificing your health. Because at the end of the day, your kids love you too and they need you to be healthy and happy for a very very long time!

 

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