Who's At the Top of Your "To-Do" List?

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Is being a parent wearing you out? Are you at the end of your rope? Do you feel like your children or teenagers are always arguing with you, or out right disobeying your every request? Do you feel powerless in your home? Do you anticipate with dread the problems you will encounter in the morning or after they get home from school? When your children are talking to you do you hear their voice but have no idea what they just said? If any of this sounds familiar to you, you may very well be one of the millions of parents who are running on empty, with no energy reserves to do one of the most important jobs of life—parenting. As a parent coach I have worked with countless parents who share stories of frustration and hopelessness they feel at the end of each day. Parents are seemingly always on edge, exhausted and overwhelmed. They just can’t cope with the daily demands of their children along with the myriad of other tasks on their “To Do List”. Frazzled parents find themselves in power struggles or arguments over every little thing with their children. By the time they come to me they are in crisis often believing that they have “bad” children. If you are feeling this way it does not mean you have bad children. It may mean, however, that you need to start taking better care of yourself and putting yourself back on the top of your to do list. By taking time for your own self-care each week and making yourself a priority, you will experience greater energy and more aliveness in your parenting.

Many parents share with me that the idea of self-care sounds selfish. “How can I take time for myself when I don’t have time for my kids?” However, after implementing a consistent self-care routine they soon realize that there is a shift that occurs in their ability to handle tough parenting situation. This is quite simply because they have the energy to be present to their children. When we are truly present with our children we are able to parent with more compassion and understanding. We are able to set firm limits and boundaries and maintain them consistently with kindness and respect. When we are tired and exhausted we are more easily manipulated or caught off guard by even the smallest situations.

What is self-care? Self-care is different for each person. In order to find what works for you, take some time to reflect. Can you recall your life before you had children; maybe there is something you did then that you would like to do again? Is there something you have been thinking about doing but have never found the time to begin, like starting a class or a new hobby? Do you get a few minutes each day to yourself for reflection or meditation? Do you want to spend more time with friends, or your spouse or partner? What do you wish you had more of in your life?

After you have come up with some ideas about how you would like to practice self-care it is time to take action. Once you begin your new routine it is important to make sure that you keep this date with yourself. Remember, you are the most important thing on your to-do list. Some of my clients actually have a set day and time each week for themselves, which they never cancel. I, however, look at my schedule each week and find a time that works for my busy, less structured schedule and mark it, “Date with Marni”. Do what works best for you. Play around with it and enjoy your time. I know you will have a renewed sense of energy and ability to handle the tough parenting challenges that simply are part of being a good parent.

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