Self-care for working parents


You know the feeling. You’re running late after getting the kids off to school. You finally get to work, sit at your desk, and jump right in. You go from one task and onto the next. Before you know it, it’s lunchtime. You try to take a quick break, but instead, you just work through. One more meeting. A few more emails. Keep pushing through. On the drive home, your brain focuses on what’s next. Daycare pickup; gymnastics practice; what’s for dinner? It’s going to be the kids’ bedtime in just a couple of hours… And then you do it all again tomorrow.

It’s no secret that America is obsessed with work productivity and staying busy. For working parents specifically, we can easily lose sight of our own wellness because we are focused on literally everyone but ourselves. Here are five useful tips for the overworked parent who is in need of some work/life balance:

  1. Disconnect. It is imperative that every working parent deserves time to reset. In our digital world, it can be refreshing to turn off the TV, put down the phone and the iPad, and just breathe. Try to choose something that isn’t overstimulating, like reading, listening to a podcast, or even just taking 25 minutes to sit in silence. If applicable, ask your partner to take over for a bit and agree to make the time yourself to disconnect. 
  1. Connect. The power of social media is undeniable. Some of the greatest connections you can make can start online. Personally, I’ve found friends through the Pittsburgh Brown Mamas ELEVATE Facebook group. It’s a safe platform to share ideas, ask for advice, share a laugh, or even just vent. By joining a group like this, you can find other parents who share similar life experiences and get what you’re going through. Connecting in that way can develop into friendships, and that’s certainly a form of self-care.
  1. Schedule special moments with your children. You’re only one person and can only be one place at once. But connecting with your kids, even for just five minutes of uninterrupted time together, has wellness benefits for both the child and the parent. For me, I save some of my vacation days to make sure I have time to volunteer at my daughter’s school. Taking a day off of work is great; but seeing the look on my 6-year-old’s face when I enter her kindergarten classroom on a class party day? Priceless. 
  1. Schedule time to sleep. Easier said than done, right? We know that the research exists. Getting enough sleep helps you stay healthy, helps manage your anxiety, keeps you sharp, and can improve your mood. Make a commitment to yourself to get a true, good night’s sleep at least some of the time. The household chores will, of course, still be there tomorrow—and that’s okay.
  1. Give yourself grace. I can say from personal experience that “Mom Guilt” is real. As working parents, we carry so much mentally. Give yourself the permission to be imperfect. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself and your own needs. Ultimately, it’s our job as parents to be the best versions of ourselves for our family, and that includes giving yourself grace. It isn’t always easy; but consider your motivations. I can guarantee that loving yourself is worth it. 

Carrie Woodard is a National Certified Counselor, National Certified School Counselor, and a Pittsburgh mama of two.