Every parent self-care guide will emphasize it: As a parent, you need to take care of yourself, and part of that is making sure you get enough sleep so that you have enough energy to take care of yourself and your family. However, we very well know that this is easier said than done. Sometimes, the children are ill, you have too much work, or maybe your partner is away, and it’s just not possible for you to get the rest you need. Heck, sometimes only thinking of your to-do list for the next day keeps you from sleeping!
The list of tips I have created is precisely for those days. Those days when only waking up seems to be an insurmountable task, and you wonder how you are going to make it through the day. These strategies will help you boost your alertness and feel more energized.
Stop saying you’re tired
Let’s be honest, we all do it. Someone asks how we are and we reply: “Fine though tired…” It’s called the tired parent syndrome.
Of course, parenting is often exhausting, and there’s no problem in acknowledging our fatigue. However, if we continuously emphasize how tired we are, we are ultimately reinforcing this feeling. So, instead of telling yourself how exhausted you feel, you could change your perspective and focus on how you will make the most of your day.
Try to have regular meals throughout the day: Ideally, you should opt for light snacks and eat more often instead of having heavy, fatty meals which are difficult to digest and will make you feel tired. Also, eating complex carbohydrates will keep you energized for a long time.
Stay hydrated: More often than we think, we actually feel tired because of dehydration. Make sure you drink enough throughout the day, it will help keep your energy levels up. Eating foods high in water such as fruit and vegetables can be helpful too.
Especially when you are doing a sedentary activity like sitting at a desk, stretching a little or walking around can make you feel more awake.
Yoga is also an excellent option to increase your alertness. The deep breathing will increase the level of blood oxygen and ultimately energize your system. Another advantage is that it can easily be done with the kids. (See my post “5 Effective Strategies to Exercise as a Parent“.)
Nothing better than a breath of fresh air to get an energy boost. Moreover, natural sunlight helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Even 20 minutes will do. Plus, the kids will be glad to go outside.
If you feel you really need to sleep, then take a short nap of 15-20 minutes. This way, you will avoid feeling groggy waking up or having difficulties going to sleep at night. Depending on your children’s age, you might take a nap while they are sleeping or when they are at school.
Schedule your day smartly
If possible, schedule your activities according to your energy levels (e.g., plan to do intellectual work in the morning if you are more alert then). It can also be helpful to be able to switch between tasks to stimulate your mind and take regular breaks to recharge.
Spend your energy wisely
Spend your physical and mental energy on important things. The truth is that we should always make sure a task, situation or person is worth spending our energy on – but it’s even more important when we are already low on energy. Sometimes, taking care of yourself means saying no to others. If you are already exhausted, you should think twice before picking up the phone when your chatty friend calls. Why not even proactively switch off your phone for an hour or two to make sure you are not disturbed. Perhaps, you can postpone doing the hovering to the next day and take a short nap instead. Remember that you should be your priority and that some tasks can wait.
Obviously, the best tip to feel energized is to practice good sleep hygiene, but we know that this isn’t always an easy task as a parent. However, what you can always do is listen to your body to become aware of your energy levels and, most of all, make it a priority to maintain them.
Feel free to let me know if these tips were helpful to you and do not hesitate to share your tips in the comments below!
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