Over the past few months, I’ve been learning more about how to care for myself—a sort of self-care that I’m calling “parenting myself 101.” After a career change, cross-county move, and intense internal work “inside the chrysalis,” I’ve recognized the need to put good self-parenting into place.
The language of “parenting” has been helpful for me to break from “self-care” focused on relaxation as an escape from everyday life. Rather than experiencing self-care as something shallow or separate from life, this deep caring involves review of habits and patterns of living. It prioritizes what humans need to thrive—beginning with things like security, nourishment, and sleep.
So, “parenting myself 101” is about creating supportive conditions for thriving.
Here’s some of what it involves (or at least how I’m striving to be a good parent to myself at this time):
- Ask regularly what my inner child needs and how I can parent myself better.
- Ask any body parts “speaking up” what they’d like me to know.
- Show myself so, so much love.
- Hug myself, and rub coconut oil or other balms into my skin (I’m thinking here of massages for babies in their first year).
- Allow myself to sleep as much as I’d like (truly, making sleep a priority even when it cuts into productivity and what can be done in wakefulness).
- Serve nourishing, tasting foods.
- Make lots of healthy food options available so that I reach for a range of foods and not just sweets.
- Allow myself still to eat some sweets (Here I’m thinking about how many homes have a “cookie jar” for occasional treats. When I “get into the cookie jar” and eat far too many, then I forgive myself and re-affirm a life-giving relationship with food).
- Plan and prioritize time to play daily.
- Plan and prioritize time to create daily.
- Get outdoors, move my body, and allow myself to build and enjoy physical strength.
- Model for myself values I’d like to hold toward becoming my “best self,” just as adults attempt to model integrity for children in their lives.
- Build routines like structured bedtime, mealtime, and playtime to help manage expectations.
- Talk to myself as I would to my niece and nephew—short-circuiting negative self-talk and instead speaking with love, encouragement, and investment in learning.
- Respect myself, as I always wanted to be respected as a child.
- Ask for what I want, and keep checking in with myself, “What do you need now?”
- Show myself way, way more love (so much love—to repeat this line from the beginning because I need to hear it again).
- Ask how else I can be supported in learning; growing; and being healthy, safe, secure, vibrant, and joyful.
- Come through on “parenting myself” so that I trust myself to take good care of me.
I’ve come to this list through experimenting, journaling, and even reading about parenting. It’s surely incomplete, but it reminds me to show up for myself so that I can show up in the world, when and where I’m called to act.
The goal here isn’t to parent perfectly. It’s not to get it right or else to dive into feelings of “not enough” again. It’s not about withdrawing into myself or focusing only on what I want/need. Instead, the goal is to establish meaningful conditions, habits, and guidance for everyday living. Because if I’m struggling for security, nourishment, and sleep, then it’s hard to know my commitments, much less to make those commitments actionable in everyday life.
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At this time of year—one noted for setting intentions and making new year’s resolutions— perhaps “parenting myself” is something to prioritize?
This month I’m using a checklist to help me with habit formation—from remembering to breathe to moving my body to taking nutritional supplements:
I share this document in case you want to try something similar. It can be modified for varied self-parenting needs. As a template, this document might give ideas for habits to prioritize, and it might also affirm what’s already working well. Perhaps it’s just a starting point for asking:
What parenting do I need for myself right now?
What habits, practices, and routines would I like to create in everyday life?
What’s nourishing me, and what nourishment do I need that I’m not yet getting?
What more do I want/need to learn about “parenting myself 101”?
This post is written by Beth Godbee for Heart-Head-Hands.com. For more posts like this one, you might try “We’re All the Ages We’ve Ever Been,” “Countering Resistance Fatigue with a Both/And Approach,” or “Snapshots of Support.” If you appreciate this site, if you connect with the storytelling, or if you use any of the recipes or resources, consider making a one-time or sustaining donation. Please also consider subscribing to posts and liking this blog on FB. Thanks!