When thinking about self-care, what comes to mind is a spa-like setting where you are getting a pedicure, while sipping on a fruity cocktail drink and surrounded by the sounds of nature. Sure, that sounds lovely – but it’s not the reality for the majority of us. Self-care for me sometimes is a two-minute break on my patio where I can enjoy brief silence away from my two screaming boys. On good days, it’s a day date with my husband, and on infrequent occasions, it’s a week-long road trip with some of my closest friends. Notice that these examples are ones that you do on your own, with your partner, or with friends and loved ones. Do whatever fills up your cup! Self-care is whatever replenishes your soul and body. What does self-care look like for you?

In the Family Resource Center at the Carpinteria Children’s Project, we focus on sharing with parents ways to have some brief instances of self-care, when 30 minutes or even 15 minutes feels impossible. We talk about mindfulness and meditation. Often all we need is a minute of deep breathing before tackling the next tantrum. We also offer other activities to promote self-care. We provide parenting classes, Bailoterapia (Zumba and yoga), and monthly parent networking meetings. The activities offer an opportunity for parent to focus on themselves. 

We address the importance of self-care because taking care of ourselves means we are in a better place mentally and emotionally to take care of others, especially children. Taking time for self-care leads to more meaningful interactions with our children. I know I am a much better mom if I take the time to recharge in small ways throughout the week. This is especially important during the holiday season when the stress is through the roof. I ask for help, take the time I need to breathe and do so guilt free. If you feel guilty about taking care of yourself, let that go because it serves no one and only harms you. 

I get it; being a parent is hard, and for that reason alone, we must tune into our needs, so we’re better equipped to handle the challenges of parenthood and enjoy the joys that come with it as well. So remember, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, think about what will give you a reset. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to take care of ourselves so we can continue being the wonderful parents, partners and colleagues we are!

 

 

 

Teresa Alvarez is the executive director of the Carpinteria Children’s Project. She has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit field and a passion for helping children and families. She currently serves on the First 5 Santa Barbara Commission, is the Board Chair for Future Leaders of America, and a founding member of the Santa Barbara Latino Giving Circle. Teresa loves to travel, read and chase after her two boys.

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