Look after yourself
You have needs, too
We all know what happens when we are tired, hungry, stressed out, and desperately need to spend some time alone. We get ratty, and our relationships suffer. As parents, we can naturally keep giving and giving, and giving again, but if we really want to deepen any relationship we need to make sure we have our own needs met, too.
Get enough sleep
Get enough sleep? Easy for you to say, I hear you mutter! But what if you went to bed half an hour earlier each night? We all tend to sit that bit too long in front of the telly or laptop, when really we should be heading for bed . . . just think how much more energy you would have if you got a bit more sleep! If your children disturb you at night, or if anything else is keeping you from sleeping well, try to think of a sensible way around the problem, so you can face each day with the energy you need.
Eat well and drink plenty of water
We all know we should eat healthily to keep up our energy levels, but it’s sometimes hard to eat the right amount of nutritious food at regular times. If you need some good advice on nutrition, today’s the perfect day to look some up (or just begin to follow what you already know!).
Some people become seriously grumpy if they don’t have regular meals – if that’s you, keep eating when you need to, so you don’t end up snapping at your children. If you already know you should eat more healthily, determine today to make that change.
Drinking lots of water can also give you lots more energy – such a simple thing to do, yet so effective. Being even a bit dehydrated can make you lethargic and give you a nagging headache. Easily remedied!
Take time for yourself
I know it’s not easy to take time for yourself when you are a parent, especially if you are on your own. My first husband died when my children were aged ten, fifteen and seventeen, so I know what it’s like to be up in the morning to do the school run and still be up late with teenagers. But if we don’t want to go under, we need to take time aside for ourselves.
Ever since my children were tiny, we had what I called “rest time”. When they were small they had a nap and so did I! As they got older, they played or read on their own, while I had the chance to sit in peace to recover from the morning and renew my energy for the rest of the day. I would have my “quiet time” then. Maybe you could try it? (Making sure your children are safe of course!)
It may be that you don’t need “me time” in the same way. Perhaps it would be better for you to take a long bath in the evening, to have the odd weekend away, or whatever is possible and helpful.
It’s not about being selfish, it’s about being realistic about being human! Even Jesus took time alone when he was surrounded by needy people – if it was OK for him, then it’s certainly OK for us.
Keep up with encouraging friends
We all need good company to keep us on the right track. Whatever does it for you, whether it’s meeting friends for coffee, having a round of golf, or whatever – make every effort to do it. Your needs to not have to come last all the time. Make sure you have lots of positive, encouraging Christian fellowship, too.
Pray and read the Bible
Praying and reading the Bible are essentials if we want to continue walking with the Lord and grow in our faith and draw closer to the Lord. Don’t skip your time with God – it may be the most important thing you do all day. We can all find the time to do the things that really matter.
Deal with stress and other issues in your life
Stress can be a big issue, but it’s not the only one. If you know that you have a problem in your life that is affecting your relationship with your children, today is an excellent opportunity to take the first step to deal with it.
Be honest with yourself, to start with. The truth can hurt, but if you deal with the truth, the truth can set you free. Not sure what the truth is? Feel confused and don’t know where to turn? Why not:
Write in your Challenge journal what you think and how you feel about any issue on your mind. Then write down what you feel the Lord is saying to you about it/what you think you should do about it. Many people find this aspect of keeping a journal incredibly helpful.
Talk to someone you trust. It can be a friend, a counsellor, a doctor, someone in the pastoral care team at church, or a trusted member of your family. Just do it – don’t be too proud to get help if you need it.
Remember, if you have a problem that is not dealt with, it will affect your family as well as yourself. Here are some issues that you really should get some help with:
If you are drinking too much alcohol, or you think your child may be.
If you are abusing your body in any way, or you think your child may be.
If your temper is causing rifts in your relationships.
If you have financial worries.
If you are suffering from depression.
If you feel that you are not coping with one or more aspect of life.
If you or your child have a long term illness.
If you or your child are at risk of abuse.
If you are harbouring bitterness, resentment, hurts and unforgiveness.
If you haven’t got over a bereavement, marriage or relationship break-up.
This is not an exhaustive list. You know if you need help with something – don’t pretend to yourself any longer. If you’re serious about deepening your relationship with your children, take the first steps to freedom today for their sake, if not for your own. You will never regret it.
Over to you!
Write in your notebook any steps you know you should take to look after yourself better.
Take that first step.
Begin a journal, if you think it might be helpful.
Pray about any known issues you are facing.
Let us know how it went! http://www.facebook.com/christianparentingchallenge
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16
For the future:
For everyone’s sake, keep looking after yourself.
Be encouraged! What other parents say:
“This is a real challenge with young kids!!! We are going to try the following . . . Dad: more time out when off, drink more water, play golf more often. Mum: Less time in front of a screen, drink more water, more exercise, wind down for longer to help sleep.
We also are going to try and programme some quality time on our own together, maybe go for a walk or a coffee once in a while.”