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Prioritizing you: Take time to focus on your self-care

As a parent, you have a lot on your plate -  creating a safe and nurturing environment, offering constant support and guidance, and managing everyone's social and emotional wellbeing. But, when we invest so much of ourselves into our work without supporting our own self-care, we may start experiencing burnout, and that impacts not only us, but the whole family system.

Burnout and emotional stress are common amongst parents. When we have to take on the mental load of being a caregiver to our families, a listening ear to our friends, and a helpful colleague at work, we’re more likely to experience emotional exhaustion. When we experience this over a long period of time, our physical and mental health becomes impacted (i.e. feeling exhausted and unable to refuel yourself, disconnected, irritable, less empathetic, powerless, numb, etc.). Sometimes, burnout can take us by surprise because it is slow to build. Little signs go unnoticed until we ‘crash and burn.’ These can be a hard moment for parents and requires a bit of introspection to figure out what is needed to feel healthier and happier. When we talk about exhaustion or burnout, we often hear about self-care practices like exercising, taking a bubble bath, or reading a book. Although these are great ways to relax the body, let’s take these ideas a step further and clarify the difference between self-care and self-soothing.


After a tough morning, driving to get a warm cup of coffee from your favorite cafe can really hit the spot. Or how about binge watching a popular Netflix series after a chaotic day at work? These are all different ways that we can self-soothe. Self-soothing focuses on activities that provide distraction or comfort in difficult times. 

The effects of self-soothing might be short lived, but the small escape can allow us to clear our mind and reset our mood. It also models for our children that slowing down and enjoying the small things can be a beneficial daily practice.

Although these activities give us a boost of serotonin, they may not actually stabilize you or create opportunities for you to grow and move forward. This is where self-care comes into play.


Self-care activities are meant to help you find meaning, support your growth, and provide groundedness. They should be activities you engage in regularly and promote the continued benefits of self-care. The list of possibilities is endless: going to therapy, meditation, exercise, setting boundaries with friends and family, eating healthy, taking care of your finances, and engaging in regular medical care. Some other great methods of self-care can include other people and relationships, which can be thought of as community care. This could be a book club, a group class, a workout group, engaging in neighborhood community groups, and more.

Community care can be beneficial to self-care because it connects us to others in new and meaningful ways that can bring us joy. You can also combine these activities for a double or triple dose of self-care. Instead of doing the normal dinner and drinks with a group of friends, meet somewhere for a nice walk around a local nature reserve. Plan a dinner date with a friend after your therapy session. Do some meal planning with your sister and go grocery shopping together. Find ways to incorporate people into your self-care practices that give you back your energy, emotional wellbeing, and focus.

Lastly, pick habits that are sustainable. Just because everyone is bullet journaling doesn’t mean you have to. Your friends may love spin class, but maybe martial arts is more your speed. On your drive home from work, you could be listening to calming music, an informative podcast, or rocking out to some 90’s punk. All of those could be soothing and regulating to people for very different reasons, so there’s no wrong choice. The trick is, find what works for you. Take tips and tricks from professionals or friends who have found habits that work for them, but then tweak them to meet your own needs. Think about how you feel after, whether it is something you could see yourself doing regularly and whether it fits your time and budget allotment. The best self-soothing and self-care practices are the ones that are authentic to who we are and what we need.

So, make self-care a priority. You can't pour from an empty cup. You don't keep driving with the gas light on. You charge your phone every night. Self-care is not selfish, it is critical! And remember, you are not a superhero (even though you might feel like one!). Taking care of oneself is not selfish, but an investment in providing the best care and support for our family.

How will you invest in caring for yourself?


Ashlee and Lisa are child psychologists who created KidsConnect Psychology as a place for children and families to access tools, supports, and therapy. Check out our website for digital downloads, parenting tool kits, information about our parent counseling, school consultations, daycare consultations, and more! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram at KidsConnect Psychology.


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