Parents: Find Calm Through Laughter

A light-hearted meditation, just for parents and caregivers

Written and performed by Erica Rabner.

15 Ways Parents Can Take Care of Themselves

Parents and caregivers are the busiest people on Earth. 

Every day, you’re making sure everyone is safe and fed, clean and clothed. And you’re taking care of business, too — from household chores to doing your job. 

Especially right now, families are facing challenges that can be stressful and overwhelming. A year into a global pandemic, research shows that parents’ stress levels have climbed since the start of the pandemic. Nearly half of parents said the level of stress in their life has increased compared with before the pandemic, and more than 3 in 5 parents with children who are still home for remote learning (62%) said the same. (Source: American Psychological Association: Stress in America: One Year Later, a New Wave of Pandemic Health Concerns).

It’s normal to feel stressed out! But before you can take care of your children and others who you love, you need to first take care of yourself. 

Dr. Matthew Rouse, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, says when parents take care of themselves, it’s like putting money in the bank. 

“It’s like you’re depositing money into a bank and building up cash reserves. To have more to give your child, you have to build up those reserves,” he said in a recent Child Mind Institute post. 

As a parent, you should take care of yourself in the ways that work best for YOU. Here are some approaches you can consider: 

  1. Take care of the basics: Eat healthy foods, stay hydrated, sleep, and exercise regularly. 
  2. Spend time outdoors: Explore nature, go on hikes, go on a short walk outside. 
  3. Exercise: Whether you love running, walking, biking, playing soccer, doing yoga, lifting weights, or rowing a boat, don’t forget to take the time to move your body!
  4. Be social: Spend time with family and spend time with friends (safely, which might mean virtually right now). 
  5. Take a time out: Every day, block time just for you so you can focus on your own thoughts and needs. This might mean building your own “calming space” in your bedroom with a comfy blanket, a book, or a podcast. Or it might mean going on a solo walk. 
  6. Break from screen time: Looking at your smartphone or computer all the time can hurt your eyes and add to your stress. Take time away from screens to take care of yourself. 
  7. Find your theme song: Listen to your favorite music or practice an instrument if you play (or want to learn). 
  8. Dance! Relax by having a dance party — by yourself or with your family. 
  9. Do the things you love: Take time to read, knit, or learn a language! Take time to do the things you love doing, even for just a few minutes 
  10. Get yourself a present: Get yourself a little gift to say “thank you” for being you! This could be something small like a new notebook or a new color of nail polish.  
  11. Write your ideas! Keep a gratitude journal to explore what you’re thankful for or keep a regular journal to reflect on your thoughts. 
  12. Learn something new: Kids are learning all the time; you can, too! Set your mind to learn something new — an instrument, a language, how to code, how to play a sport, or how to bake or cook something special. 
  13. Have a home spa day: Your kid gets bubble baths. What about you? This could simply mean taking a warm bath or extra-long shower!
  14. Do meditation/breathing exercises or practice mindfulness: Practice deep breathing, which can help you calm down and focus. Take the time to become more aware of where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. Try not to judge yourself. 
  15. Take time to plan: Plan something new — whether it’s running a half marathon or or traveling somewhere you’ve never been!