Self Care for Parents: Practicing Self Presence

My clients often say, “I know, I know you always say I need to take care of myself too” because it is an essential component of parenting that I address repeatedly. Yet what I have realized is that often my encouragement toward self-care is heard as yet another thing to do, something else to add to the already huge list, which can increase the overwhelming feelings so common to life as a parent.

Yes, going to the spa, getting out with friends, or daily efforts like making time for meditation or a walk, are all excellent forms of self care because they rejuvenate and center us.

Yet, a more expansive concept of self-care is not something to do, or be added to a list – it is a state of mind, a shift in focus. It is parenting yourself as you parent your children, day by day, moment by moment with self-presence, acceptance and connection. Today, I will focus on self-presence.

Throughout the day, as our children’s needs call us to put our attention and energy on them, it is easy to lose our center. We can be overwhelmed by all of the needs or things to do, as they never truly end. Being present with ourselves, means stepping back from all of this, and coming back to our soul.

Self-presence is not something we do, it is where we put our attention. Rather than going outside of ourselves, it is a sinking back into ourselves. It is a letting go of “What’s happening out there” to “What’s happening in-here?” How am I feeling? What is my heart yearning for?

Though we tend to automatically respond by doing something, like a self-nurturing activity, often all we need is to simply be with ourselves in the same way we offer our children our presence. Have you ever tried not engaging with your child’s dialogue and simply being fully present with them, with a smile or a hug? Have you felt them melt in those moments? It is like this. It is not having all the answers, it is simply choosing to be here in this moment, giving our attention to ourselves. Smiling to ourselves in recognition and honor of our own beauty. In Inner Bonding we would say, it is simply being with and holding on to your inner child.

Some ways to facilitate this are:

  1. Take deep breaths – imagine they are filling your heart, nurturing your body and reminding you of your spirit
  2. Stop mind chatter, let go of thoughts, and simply rest in your silence (while doing dishes, etc. Sitting still not required)
  3. Think of the nurturing that you give your children that is beyond words – a feeling of goodwill, love, compassion, care. Then turn these feelings inward.
  4. Consciously connect to your spiritual guidance and ask for help in honoring your soul, moment by moment
  5. Seek help if you find that you have many blocks to self-love. Many of us have internalized lies that keep us from opening to love. This can be healed.

Above all, make a commitment to love and care for yourself just as you do your children, valuing your soul as an important member of your family.

 

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