Self-care isn’t Self-ish: Parents Take Note

Guilt is one of the guilty secrets few of us parents are willing to admit. We all feel it at times—especially those of us who have enrolled our child in a therapeutic program. We initially feel as though we have “sent them away.” We have not. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Before engaging a child in treatment, the parent (and the child) experience a great deal of worry, tears, stress, sleepless nights…Once in treatment begins, a weight lifts. Your child is in a safe supported environment, engaged in therapy and working on themselves. As we discussed previously in this blog, enrolling your child in a therapeutic program is an incredibly brave act of love. By removing your child from an environment and circumstances that might exacerbate their unhappiness, you are giving them the opportunity to gain a new perspective and a greater chance for healing.

Now it’s your turn for healing. Self-care is not self-ish. The flight attendant is right. You must put on your own oxygen mask first in order to better assist those around you. “Nourishing yourself in every way possible will help you blossom and grow into the woman or man you are meant to be.”[1]

It is time to do something you have always wanted to do but weren’t able because of your commitments. Maybe your self-care presents itself as a new work focus, maybe a new hobby, maybe as something fun. Fun is an important part of self-care; one that has been quashed by worry and guilt. It’s time to get back to it.

Self-care doesn’t have to be a huge commitment; it doesn’t have to be expensive. Self-care can be anything that makes you feel calmer and more centered. It can be as simple as taking a hot bath or as invigorating as learning a new sport or honing a new skill. In any case, self-care is a practice that gets better with repetition.

Here are two great takes on self-care. The first is from Success Magazine, focused on people who take full responsibility for their own development and income. 

8 Reasons Self-care isn’t selfish

  1. It molds authenticity.
  2. It’s the only way we can take care of others.
  3. It helps you move from existing to living.
  4. It helps you find your purpose.
  5. Self-care is as empowering as it can be.
  6. Motivation roots from it.
  7. It’s the best road to a physically healthier you.
  8. It is the perfect reminder that you are worthy.[2]

The second is from Path Forward, a nonprofit organization on a mission to empower people to restart their careers after time spent focused on caregiving. Sound familiar? Taking care of your child – especially during difficult times – has been your full-time job. Restart ‘You’

Self-care is:

  • Turning off the TV instead of watching another episode of “The Crown” because the alarm is going off at 5am so you can get to the gym.
  • Declining the second drink at the office holiday party. It might even be declining the first drink.
  • Saying “no” to the thing you don’t want to do even if someone is going to be angry at you.
  • Maintaining financial independence.
  • Doing work that matters.
  • Letting other people take care of themselves.

“Ironically when you truly care for yourself, … you are actually in a much stronger place to give of yourself to those around you. You will be a happier parent, a more grateful spouse, a fully engaged colleague. Those who take care of themselves have the energy to take care of others joyfully because that caregiving doesn’t come at their own expense. And those who take care of themselves also have the energy to work with meaning and purpose toward a worthy goal. Which means they are also the people most likely to make the world a better place for all of us.” [3]




[3] (initially written for Forbes Magazine)