I’d say a blizzard after the holidays of last week is a gleaming reminder to slow down, and tune into the self. We often think of self-care as a solo activity. Even if part of our self-care includes going out with friends or otherwise interacting with other people, it can still feel like something we do on our own. But during a pandemic, and a snow day when we are all stuck at home…establishing a self-care routine with our whole family is a great time to start!
Involving your family in your self-care routine can be a great way to spend some time together, while still ensuring that everyone is getting what they need to feel happy, healthy, and whole. But what does including the family really mean?
There are three reasons that immediately come to mind for why you should include your family, and especially your kids in your self-care routine.
The first reason is obvious: it’s hard to find time without the kids. Since they’re always with you anyway, you might as well include them. It eliminates that need to try to find time without them; trying to stay up late or get up early in order to make time. Basically, it comes down to making it easier on yourself.
The second reason is it allows you to show your kids that you matter, too. How many times does the whole family have to eat something they don’t really want because one (usually tiny) member of the family refuses to eat anything else? Or you’ve watched the same kid’s movie a dozen times and are hitting play for the thirteenth time? We want our kids to be happy and to feel important, so we encourage them to speak up and we give them what they want.
But sometimes you need to show them that it’s not just their needs and wants that matter. By including them in your self-care, you show them that you value yourself and your ability to take care of yourself. You show them that it’s okay to say no to others and to do what you need to do sometimes. You also help them see why they should give you that time for yourself, even if they’re not involved.
Finally, including kids in your self-care routine is a good idea simply because kids need self-care too. Even small kids can feel anxious, overwhelmed or frustrated (hence tantrums). Kids can feel stressed. They can feel left out or picked on even in school. By starting early, you’ll be helping your children find ways to manage their stress, find balance, and generally feel better throughout all their lives. Who wouldn’t want to give their kids that?
If your idea of self-care is a bubble bath or time alone, it might seem impossible to include the kids. And while you should certainly continue to engage in that form of self-care if it’s what you need or want, you should also consider other ways to engage that do allow others to join you.
Consider ideas like:
One thing to keep in mind here is including kids in your self-care routine doesn’t necessarily mean that you are together in the same room doing the same thing at the same time.
Including the kids in your self-care routine can also mean setting some boundaries — being clear with the kids that this time is your time and they are to leave you alone unless there’s an emergency. It can mean showing the kids what you do for your own self-care and encouraging them to find what works for them.
As you start trying to include the kids, it’s important to remember a few things.
First, expect a learning curve. Don’t expect that the kids are going to just jump on board and everything is going to go smoothly from the first moment. There will be some learning moments as you figure out how to make this work. Expect that, be ready for it, and don’t let it get to you.
Second, let the kids make suggestions for things to do as well as tell you when they don’t like something. Meditation is my thing, but children with concentration difficulties may not be into it at all…this is where kids yoga can be so much fun to do together! Check out https://cosmickids.com/ There is a lot of inspiration on this site, then I suggest doing some searching on your own to find a yoga that fits with your family and kids’ style. So I never try to force my daughter to meditate with me. If your kid says something you do doesn’t work for them, be open to that. If they say they want to try something that doesn’t sound appealing to you, let them try it. Just like adults, kids are individuals with their own taste — make sure to allow them to explore.
Next, remember that the decision to include the kids in your self-care routine doesn’t mean they have to be a part of every aspect. The intention behind this is to encourage the kids to engage in self-care themselves while also making it easier for you to do it. You can still choose to engage in self-care by yourself outside of whatever self-care you do with the kids.
As a part of the reminder that you can still do some self-care on your own, if something you do with the kids doesn’t turn out to be the relaxing, calming, soothing experience you intended it to be, don’t put too much pressure on it. Remind yourself that you can do something else for yourself later and let go of what happened with the kids.
Last, if the kids aren’t interested now, don’t force it. Let them know the invitation to join you is always open and let it go at that. Keep an eye on their actions and activities, though. You might be surprised to discover that they actually are engaging in self-care entirely on their own and you just didn’t know it — and neither do they.
Self-care is unique to everyone, but by bringing the kids into your routine, you invite them to explore it in a safe space and before they reach a breaking point. For many adults, self-care doesn’t become a “thing” until they burn out or otherwise reach a point where they feel they have no other choice. Inviting the kids into your routine helps them have something in place so that they may never reach that point themselves. And isn’t that one of the best gifts a parent could give their child?
***Blog Post and Photo By: Cassandra Z., Marketing Chair and Board Member