How Can I Practice Better Self Care as a Parent?

It’s a balancing act …


Leesha E.C., MD, MPH

Critically acclaimed author, feminist, and civil rights activist Audre Lorde boldly stated, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and this is an act of political warfare.”

Whoa! Cue the mic drop. For so many of us, self-care indeed means bubble baths, mani-pedis, date nights, and such. It’s what we do when we finally get around to making the time for some rest and relaxation. But what if we’ve got this whole idea of self-care all wrong? I honestly think we do. Self-care has nothing to do with self-indulgence. Instead, it’s choosing to make yourself, your whole self, a priority every single day – not just when you find the time once a month if you’re lucky!

What to Know

Self-care IS NOT:

  • Selfish
  • Self-indulgent
  • Ignoring the needs of others
  • Relegated to massages and hanging out with the girls

Self-care IS:

  • Daily and intentionally choosing to make yourself and your needs a priority
  • Becoming fiercely protective of your own happiness and well-being
  • Learning to say “no” to those things that don’t feed your soul
  • Creating and maintaining healthy boundaries
  • Letting go of toxic relationships
  • Searching for purpose and meaning even while enduring painful circumstances
  • Practicing kindness and self-compassion
  • Authenticity
  • Vulnerability

What to Do

Real self-care encompasses wholeness and wellness on every level – physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, financially, and intellectually.

I like to think of self-care in levels.

Level 1 of self-care is the essentials, the minimum requirements for basic self-care. What that looks like is:

  • Restful and restorative sleep
  • Time blocked for relaxation and leisure (i.e. a break)
  • Physical and emotional safety

These are the necessities.

Level 2 encompasses nurturing your body, mind, and soul. This means:

  • Physical activity totaling at least 150 minutes per week as recommended by the American Heart Association
  • Eating nutritious foods – I call this eating the rainbow such that you should incorporate fruits and vegetables representing the colors of the rainbow at every meal
  • Maintaining healthy relationships with family, friends, and others
  • Eliminating toxic relationships
  • Developing healthy coping skills to manage stress
  • Spiritual practices like prayer and meditation

Level 3 is for growth, transformation, and evolution which consists of:

  • Reading books that stretch you cognitively and foster a love of learning
  • Actively pursuing your purpose and chasing your dreams
  • Charitable acts through philanthropy and volunteerism
  • Investing in yourself through coaching, obtaining degrees and certifications, and entrepreneurial pursuits



How Can I Practice Better Self Care as a Parent?

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