It starts with you

by Stacy I. Roth

In this fast-paced technological society, parents are busy raising their families, working, staying connected with others through social media and contributing to their communities in great ways. But where does the “me” time fit in for parents on their long list of responsibilities in daily life? For many parents the “me” time is either non-existent or extremely limited.

Parents who realize the importance of creating time for themselves each day are giving their children one of the best gifts. Parents who nurture themselves on a consistent basis are able to be more present with their children. Parents who are taking the time each day to make themselves a priority are wise – not selfish – as they realize it starts with them if they want to have healthy and satisfying relationships in their lives. In their book, “Minimalist Parenting,” Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest assert that taking care of ourselves “is not indulgent or selfish – it is a crucial part of living a full life” (Koh and Dornfest, 2013). Christine Koh states it best, “When you treat yourself well, goodness trickles down into your relationships with your partner, your kids, your friends, and your community. It’s like a big circle of awesomeness” (Koh, 2013).

Teaching our children that caring for our needs and pursuing our passions in life is essential to optimal well-being. When parents feel emotionally, physically and spiritually “filled up,” they are able to be present and give more to their families, professions and communities.

Here are some steps parents can take to create more time, and restore balance in their lives:

  1. Decide what you want and need in your life. It’s important to ask yourself these questions: What makes me happy? What is missing in my life that I used to enjoy? 
  2. Once you decide what you want and need more of in your life, make a specific plan about how you are going to create it, and commit time to yourself each day. It’s important to schedule your time like your other commitments. For example, if exercising is something you enjoy, schedule a specific time each day in your daily planner to exercise. Even if you only have 10 minutes to spare each day, this time is for you. It is just words if you don’t commit to a specific time each day for yourself. Put your wants and needs into action! Like the old saying goes, if we are not good to ourselves; we cannot be good to anyone or anything.
  3. It is important to check in with yourself each day. Evaluate how your plan to make time for yourself each day and restore balance is working. Ask yourself: How is the time I’m making for myself impacting my relationships, thoughts, feelings and behaviors? 
  4. It is also important to be mindful of what is working, and not working for you, so you can make any adjustments in your plan to create time for yourself on a consistent basis. You will be more inclined to repeat the actions again if you are seeing positive results from making yourself a priority each day. It truly starts with you. |

1) “Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less” by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest (Bibliomotion, March 2013).

Stacy I. Roth, M.S. in counseling psychology, has provided individual, group and crisis counseling to adults, children and at-risk youth in clinical and school settings. Stacy is a certified educational school specialist. She has performed school assessments and provided consultation to school staff and parents on various academic, social and emotional issues. Since 2003, she has been teaching psychology and counseling psychology in academia. Her areas of teaching interests include clinical psychology, psychotherapy in clinical and counseling settings, child psychopathology, ethics, historical framework of psychology and different learning styles. During 2007 and 2008, she was a poster session presenter on collaborative teaching and learning at a suburban community college, and co-author of an article on Collaborative Teaching and Learning in a networked course setting. Stacy is the recipient of the 2006 Excellence in Teaching Award. She was named as a psychology faculty mentor during the 2011 Baccalaureate Awards Program at Temple University.