Wondering why self-care is so important for busy parents? Looking for the best self-care tips for parents and caregivers?
Raising children can take a lot out of you, both physically and mentally. No matter their age, whether newborns, toddlers, or even teens, being a parent can take a toll on you.
A lack of self-care can lead to ramifications that will make your parenting journey so much less joyful.
This post will give you self-care ideas as well as how to manage self-care when you’re a parent.
Why is Self Care Important for Parents?
My husband and I had a very frank conversation a couple of years ago about self-care. We realized that on the days we took care of ourselves, we were more patient with the kids and each other. We were able to handle life’s stresses and craziness better.
We’ve always taken care of our marriage. It wasn’t until after this conversation that we began to take care of ourselves too. I look forward to my “me time” and it has helped me become a better mom.
How Can I Better Myself as a Parent?
According to Psychology Today, “Self-care can help replenish a parent’s energy, focus, and positivity.” That’s why I put together these self-care tips for parents. I believe every parent should feel taken care of.
Taking care of yourself makes you a better parent.
How Do You Take Care of Yourself as a Parent?
Take a look at your life. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are you missing?
- Are your basic needs being met?
- Do you need more alone time?
- Do you need more time outside the house without the kids?
- Do you need more time with your partner?
- Do you need more support from your partner?
- How is your mental health?
So how do parents practice self-care? You have to make yourself a priority.
Take the questions above and figure out what you need to feel better. Even if you don’t have all of the answers right away, the point is to try something…anything.
See how it feels. If it doesn’t help, then try something else.
Keep reading to learn some great self-care tips for parents, no matter what stage of parenthood you are in. I organized the tips below to fit into the different stages of parenthood. Keep in mind that most can be used at any stage.
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Self-Care Tips for Parents of Babies
This section of self-care tips for parents is focused on the necessities. During this phase of parenthood, you completely immerse yourself in your baby: the feedings, the diaper changes, and the nap times.
Everything seems to revolve around this new little person in your life. You need to focus on your basic needs to ensure you are taking care of yourself.
#1. Ask for Help
Know that it’s ok to ask for help. You can’t do everything yourself.
When my second baby was born, we hired a postpartum doula to regularly come to our house for those first couple of months. She would help with anything we needed.
We mostly had her watch our son and the baby so we could rest or shower. But she also did a few chores and cooked some meals for us.
Hiring a doula was a great decision and I wish I had done it the first time I had a baby. She only came twice a week, but knowing she was coming (to give me a break) gave me the drive to push through the tough times.
#2. Implement a Schedule/Routine
Focus on your baby and learn what works for your family. I began implementing a schedule and routine with both of my children when they were around 5 months old.
Once I got them on a schedule, I felt like my entire day opened up. I knew I could go to lunch or run an errand at a certain time because I knew what worked for my baby.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to get on a schedule. But once you put in that hard work, you’ll reap the rewards.
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#3. Sleep Train and Begin a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Let me preface this with the fact that every baby is different. Do what feels right for you and your baby.
Once my babies were sleep trained and slept through the night, I knew that at 7:30 pm, I would have kid-free time. And let me tell you, that time is SO important! It has helped my husband and I so much.
You can use that time to do something for yourself or spend time with your partner.
#4. Eat Healthy
This can be difficult in the early baby months. But it’s very important to keep yourself healthy so you can keep your baby healthy. You’re already not getting enough sleep so at least find the time to eat a healthy snack or meal every day. Taking care of yourself is so important.
If you’re a mom reading this, pregnancy and birth took a lot out of your body. Even if you’re a dad reading this, you can quickly get out of shape after having your first baby!
Self-Care Tips for Parents of Toddlers
Once your child is out of the baby stage, new challenges set it. When you have a baby, self-care tips for parents focus on your basic needs because that’s ALL there is time for.
But you slowly gain some of that time back and can have time for the next level of self-care: wants. This section is specifically focused on restoring calm in your life because toddlers can be a whirlwind!
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#6. Begin Independent Play
We actually started independent play when our children were babies. You can also begin in the toddler years because it sets a foundation for their play as they get older. This is an important stage in child development.
Both of my children play very well on their own. Because of this, I can put them in their respective rooms at 5 o’clock and make dinner with my husband in peace.
Once your children can play independently, you begin to have a lot more time for yourself.
This tip became more important to me once my son became a toddler. Let’s face it: toddlers test your mental capacities.
Meditation taught me to breathe through those frustrating tantrums. I could respond to them with love and kindness instead of exhausted frustration.
#8. Start a Journal
This tip goes along with the one above because it helps you refocus your mind. Journaling has so many benefits and can help you get through some of those frustrating toddler phases. Which can also help with mental health.
#9. Go for a Massage
I’ll say it again, toddlers can test your patience and make you tense. What better way to relax than to go get a massage?
If regular massages don’t fit into your budget, find some YouTube videos. Teach yourself some massage techniques. You and your spouse can give each other relaxing massages after tough days.
#10. Take a Walk
This tip is great because you can do it with your toddler! I always feel better after a nice walk. Make sure to bring along some snacks and toys to keep your toddler happy so you can walk as long as you need to. Walking every day (or when you can) is so good for you and your child.
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Self-Care Tips for Parents of Elementary-Aged Children
#11. Don’t Enroll Your Children in Every Possible After School Activity
Even though this tip directly focuses on your kids, it helps you too. How can you take care of yourself if you don’t have the time to? You and your children will have more time to do things you enjoy if there are fewer things scheduled.
#12. Read a Book
Make reading a priority in your house. If you love to read, your kids will too.
Go to the library together and make sure you take some time to look through the adult sections. Find a couple of books for yourself and let your kids see you reading. It’ll reinforce the importance of reading and slowing down.
#13. Get Organized and Use a Planner
By now, you’re probably managing a lot. The older your children get, the more they have going on.
Give your brain a break. Staying organized and having a planner can help you prioritize and focus on what needs to be done.
#14. Do a Craft
Your elementary school children probably have homework that involves creativity. Use some of their craft materials and let your creativity flow. Here are lots of great crafts for adults, and there are lots of hobby ideas for you to try too.
#15. Watch a Show/Movie Your Kid Isn’t Allowed to Watch
My husband and I used to love watching kids’ movies. On our first date, we actually watched A Bug’s Life together.
Now that we have kids, these kinds of movies have lost a bit of their appeal. We hear kids’ shows/movies all the time. There’s something nice about watching something that is purely made for adults.
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Self-Care Tips for Parents of Teens
The tips in this section have the added bonus of helping you teach some important values to your teenagers.
Doing good in your community can feed your soul. Your kids’ teenage years are a great time to show them the importance of caring for others.
Find a charity that speaks to you and begin to give back to your community. Your kids will begin to learn the importance of helping others by watching your example. This also allows you to spend quality time with your loved ones too.
There are so many services you can lend a hand to. Your time is one of the greatest resources you can give.
#17. Learn Something New
Just because you’re a parent now doesn’t mean you have to stop learning! Take a class at your community college or learn a new skill.
You can even use your teenager’s homework time to catch up on your learning/homework. You’ll enjoy doing something for yourself and reinforce the importance of learning.
There are so many free learning programs and courses you can take online, sign up for one today!
#18. Have An At-Home Spa Day
Pamper yourself. Much like the toddler years, I’m sure your teenagers are pushing your limits. You deserve some peace and relaxation. Taking time for yourself is ok!
Buy some face masks, nail polish, or bubble baths. Play relaxing music and unwind.
#19. Go on Regular Dates with Your Spouse/Partner
Hopefully, you’ve been doing this one all along. But if you don’t live close to family and can’t afford child care, this one might be hard to implement when your kids are younger. Teenagers are able to stay home alone.
You can prioritize connecting with your spouse on a romantic date. Create a schedule to ensure this becomes part of your routine. You have to give yourself free time as a couple to connect and continue to work on your relationship.
#20. Practice Positive Self Affirmations
Teenagers are going to push your buttons. You’ll question whether you’re doing the right things with them.
Practice talking nicely to yourself. Here are some examples:
- “I am a good parent”
- “I am enough”
- “I do my best to raise my children to be good people”
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Self-Care Tips for Parents of College-Aged Kids
Just because your child is off to college, doesn’t mean the parenting ends. Self-care is still important to parents of “grown-up” children.
#21. Allow Yourself to Let Go
You have put in the work and your kids are off on their own (hopefully!). Check in on them but let them live their lives.
You have your own life to live, so enjoy it! The more you can let go, the better you can focus on yourself.
#22. Accept Your Emotions
Take a look at how you are feeling about your kids moving out. Are you excited, sad, or a little bit of both?
Whatever you are feeling, know that it is ok. You are bound to have mixed emotions and accepting them is part of self-care. Give yourself permission to have any or all of these feelings.
#23. Do Light Exercise
If you’ve consistently been working out, you can handle a tougher exercise regimen. But if you haven’t, now is a great time to begin light exercise. With the proper medical advice from your doctor, of course.
You’ll want to make sure you stay healthy so that you can keep up with those future grandchildren your kids may bring home one day.
#24. Make Some New Friends
Now that your kids are out of the house, you’ll have more time to make new friends. Take a class at your local community center and meet new people. Social Media makes it easier to find these events too. There are so many apps to make friends around the world.
#25. Reconnect with Your Spouse
Now is the perfect time to get to know your spouse again. Take the time to look back on your journey together and explore how your relationship has changed over the years.
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What are 5 Things You Can Do for Self Care Daily?
Now that you have some great tips for each of the parenting stages, what about day-to-day self-care? Do these 5 simple things to take care of yourself every day:
#1. Drink Water
There are so many benefits to drinking water. Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. Chronic dehydration can lead to kidney problems, constipation, urinary tract infections, and other health conditions. Your kids need you healthy, so stay hydrated.
#2. Eat Healthy
Find your favorite, healthy snacks and have them on hand for when you need a quick pick-me-up. You’re always feeding your kids, but don’t forget about your own needs.
#3. Get Good Sleep
Sleep is important for so many reasons. Take a look at your sleeping habits and see if you can improve your sleep in any way.
#4. Do Something Small for Yourself
This can be as big as getting a massage or as small as reading a book for 15 minutes. Find something that brings you joy every day.
#5. Move Your Body
You can go on a walk, exercise, or even just park at the back of the grocery store parking lot. Moving your body can go a long way in improving your physical health and self-care.
If you’re lacking the motivation to start exercising again after a long time, think about joining a team sport you enjoy or fitness programs at a local gym or community center.
Printable Self-Care Quotes
Need a daily reminder that self-care is important for parents? Get your 10 FREE printable self-love quotes, that are the perfect reminder that you deserve some me time.
This download comes with high-resolution, graphic quotes that are ready to print and post in your home or office.
Did you like these self care tips or care strategies for parents? Let us know in the comments below! How do you take care of yourself as a parent?Dear busy and tired parent, do you need to take better care of yourself? Here are 25 simple self-care tips for parents with kids of all ages. Self-care makes you a better mom or dad! #SelfCare #Wellness #MentalHealth #Parenting
Do you have any other self-care tips for parents?
More About Guest Contributor
Melissa is the Founder of Connect Again, a marriage blog focused on helping couples with kids strengthen their marriages. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Texas at Austin and her Master of Arts in Teaching at North Carolina State University. She lives in North Carolina with her 2 kids and husband (who she adores!).
Last Updated on July 22, 2023