We chatted to Zoe Blaskey – founder of Motherkind – about quick, easy, free methods of self-care for single parents that even the busiest of us can fit into our hectic lives.
Firstly, if you’re finding parenting hard right now – that’s because it is hard right now. Often, when people are finding parenting hard, they think it’s because they’re doing something wrong and all they need to do is find a tip or a trick to solve things. That’s rarely the case, and certainly isn’t the case at the moment, but accepting that parenting is hard is actually a really powerful tool.
Self-care is an overused term – it’s not all golf trips, spa days and getting your nails done. Self-care for single parents means caring for ourselves. It’s so easy to emotionally care for our children and our family, but so difficult to give that same kindness, tenderness and attention to ourselves. These self-care tips don’t require much time or money – it’s just not realistic for parents (especially single parents) to spend loads of time and money on looking after themselves – but they will definitely help you feel better.
It’s a cliche, but you need to look after yourself in order to take care of your children’s needs. You’re the glue holding it all together – dealing with their emotions, managing co-parenting, your own life, work, and so on. It’s so hard to deal with all of this if you let yourself get depleted.
If we don’t take care of our emotional needs they come out sideways in different forms – that might be anger for you, or resentment, snapping, or numbing yourself. Often, like a dripping tap, you can feel that you’re slowly getting tired and overwhelmed, but you think you don’t have time to deal with it because you’re too busy doing pick-up, drop-off, or making dinner. But, if you ignore it, that dripping tap can soon become a flood.
Close your eyes and just think. Notice how it feels to be in your body. This might be the first time today that you’ve remembered that you’re a breathing, heart-beating human.
Maybe notice your breath and take a deep breath in. Ask yourself how you’re feeling right now – you might feel calm, you might feel anxious, or you might have thoughts pinging all around as you do this.
Then ask yourself: What do I need right now? You might need some breakfast, a drink of water, or even a good cry. Just notice how it feels to connect with yourself.
When people say “I don’t have time to look after myself” I really challenge that, as everyone has 30 seconds. We don’t normally ask ourselves what our needs are, so doing this a few times a week will be a game-changer – you can do it with your kids too!
I always do a lot of work with single and solo parents around boundaries. If you’re co-parenting, boundaries are really important.
Without boundaries, even with all the self-care in the world, you’re just going to leak energy. We tend to think we have limitless energy and that we can give, and give, and give – but that’s not the case. You need to think of your energy as finite.
What are your boundaries? What do you say yes to that you’d actually like to say no to? If there are areas in your life where you have needs, but you’re not expressing them, they build up. Where are you keeping quiet when you actually need to speak up? What drains your energy? What gives you energy?
As parents, our time and energy is so limited, so you want to make sure that the things you’re doing are filling you up and not draining you. If you as a parent set boundaries and only say yes when you want to say yes, your children will naturally learn how to protect their own energy and boundaries.
The external world feels really overwhelming at the moment and, if you don’t have the internal tools to deal with that, it can be an incredible weight to carry and you can end up feeling very drained.
Overwhelm is a different feeling for everyone – for some people their chest feels tight, for others their mind fizzes with thoughts. We tend to want to deal with overwhelm by sticking our head in the sand – putting the TV on, grabbing our phones, and numbing it. That approach doesn’t help and is only going to make things harder. The best way to tackle overwhelm – like most things in life – is head on.
Here’s a really simple exercise: write down everything you feel overwhelmed about. Then create two columns; one titled “What I can control” and the other one titled “What I have no control over”. It’s about separating the things that you can do nothing about from the things that you can do something about. Then, out of the things you can do something about, what is one tiny – and I mean tiny – action that you can take to move you forwards? Do that.
Zoe recommends frolos listen to the following episodes of The Motherkind Podcast which feature inspiring guests and topics which are especially relevant to single parents:
Zoe Blaskey is a parent blogger, podcaster, and founder of Motherkind – a self-empowerment platform for modern parents.
Her mission is to share the skills she has developed through years of practicing as a meditation teacher, coach and a Kundalini yoga teacher with parents in order to help them reconnect with their true selves and live a happy, confident and guilt-free life.