The 2010 census found 13.6 million unmarried parents are raising their kids on their own in the United States. Single parents are everywhere and they run themselves ragged getting everything that needs done for their families. As the sole head of the household, single parents have to juggle their responsibilities between their family, careers, finances, and the relationships in their own personal lives. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the chaos and forget to care for yourself.
The Importance of Self-Care
“Self-care” is definitely a social media buzzword thrown around by millennials under photos of selfies taken at the gym and dogs wearing towel turbans. However, it’s not just a hashtag, it’s an extremely personal and important way to protect both your physical and mental health as an adult. Far from selfish, self-care is about doing the things you need to do so you can face your responsibilities as a single parent with your optimal well being and a positive outlook.
What you do for your own self-care depends on your needs and what you enjoy, but pretty much everybody can base their self-care on the following tenets:
Make choices that improve your overall health: eat wholesome meals, get plenty of sleep, engage in some physical activity every once and awhile… You know the drill.Practice good hygiene. If you find yourself unmotivated to do things like taking a shower, washing your hair, brushing your teeth, etc, that’s a sign that something may be wrong.Spend your free time with the people you love… and not just your kids! Hanging out with friends helps build your sense of belonging and community that continues even after you children are grown and out of the house.Find a moment to do something you love every day. It can’t be something you have to do… pursue a healthy hobby, watch a beloved television show, or treat yourself to a favorite food.Incorporate relaxation into your life every day. Some great ways to relax include yoga, meditation, walking, and taking a hot bath.Make your mental health a priority. If you feel like you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, do not hesitate to reach out for help.
Fitting in Self-Care as a Single Parent
As mentioned above, the many responsibilities of being a single parent often get in the way of what you need to do to care for yourself. Keeping that in mind, it’s important to be kind with yourself when it comes to your self-care. There’s no hard and steadfast schedule you need to adhere to when it comes to things like taking a bubble bath. If you can’t actively fit self-care into your day, it’s not the end of the world.
That being said, if you do find yourself with some free time and want to be experiment with ways to practice self-care, here are some ideas on easy things to do you can fit into your schedule.
Allow yourself to daydream about an ideal vacation, career, date... whatever you want!Spend an hour baking a decadent dessert and then eat it all by yourself. Take yourself to the movies. Get extra butter on the popcorn. Create a playlist of your favorite feel good music and play it throughout the house. Say “yes” to something you’ve never tried before. On that note, say “no” to something you really don’t want to do. Throw a party and bring old friends together. Re-read your favorite book from high school.
There are millions of single parents in America taking on the many responsibilities of being the sole head of a family. With all the roles a single parent must take on, taking care of yourself often falls by the wayside. However, self-care is incredibly important both for physical and mental well being. A lot of self-care resides in doing the obvious things to care for your health, such as eating right, relaxing, and making your mental health a priority. However, if you have time to squeeze in a little indulgent self-care, all the better. Take yourself to the movies, throw a party, or simply say “no” to something you don’t want to do… it’s all in the name of self-care!
Guest article by Alexis Hall with Single Parent