Parents Take Care of Kids by Taking Care of Themselves

According to this blurb, parents who practice self care help their kids by:

1. Lowering stress levels
2. Teaching our children to value their health and wellbeing
3. Being better, healthier, calmer parents

That’s all great in theory. And it makes perfect sense. When I’m in better health, I’m much more patient with my kids. I can model relaxed behaviors and overall make better choices.

But there’s something that happens when bundle of newborn enters the world. That little growing life becomes the center of your universe. And that’s a good thing. When a newborn baby enters the world, they are helpless. Besides breathing, blinking, burping, crying and filling the diaper, there isn’t anything they can do on their own.

The connection between a parent and young child is strong, but this connection can also be a little smothering if we as dads don’t take care of ourselves. Everyone needs time to themselves, and a father who works, cares for his family without any outside time or support could feel like he’s loosing his identity.

My dad calls it the third leg in the three-legged stool. There the first leg that’s home or family. The second leg is work and career. The third leg is the outlet. The excersise passion. The hobby. The time with a close friend over coffee.

A three legged stool doesn’t stand very well if one of the legs isn’t being tended to, and for the purpose of this post, here are some ways to keep up on self care:

  1. Meditate. It’s a practice, and they call it a practice for a reason. Basically sit in quiet, focus on your breathing and when a thought comes, go back to focusing your breathing. Here’s an intro from Primer Magazine.
  2. Get outside for a chunk of time everyday. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, American’s spend 87% of their life indoors, and 93% when you factor in time spent in cars, (especially kids) with technology and the information age. So much so that a term forest bathing is becoming popular in the U.S., educating us on how healthy it is for us to immerse ourselves in nature.
  3. Spend time with friends, away and in front of your kids. Time spent with friends away from the kids allows me to be me, without being dad. Time spent with friends in front of kids allows our children the chance to learn social skills. Parents with friends teach their kids how to make friends.

What other ideas do you have that help you take care of yourself to be a better father?

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