Self-care and wellness practices are too often seen as things we do before or after work. As child care workers who often work long days, that means on many days we never get to them. The things that help us feel healthier, happier and more balanced become just more things that hang out perpetually on our to-do list. The better option is to incorporate smaller bites of those things into our workday. Let’s be real; we’re not suddenly going to have an extra hour or two outside of work to devote to ourselves, but we can carve out a little bit of time here and there with the kids to create a regular practice. Here are three things to get you started.
- Experience nature. Every child loves to be outdoors so you won’t have a hard time convincing the kids to take a morning walk with you. Don’t worry about teaching what tree this leaf comes from or the habits of this bug; just take in and fully experience the sights, sounds and scents of Mother Nature. Spending more time outdoors reduces blood pressure and stress and improves our overall health. Plus, you’re instilling a love of nature that will stay with your kids for life.
- Use nap or quiet time to meditate. Perri Peltz, documentary filmmaker, says, “Published studies have documented the many physical and mental health benefits of meditation, including decreased pain, better immune function, less anxiety and depression, a heightened sense of well-being, and greater happiness and emotional self-control.” That’s a whole lot of benefits from one activity! Every child needs sleep or quiet time during the day. Set as little as 15 minutes of that time aside to meditate. I know, I know… you have so many other things to do but if your kids needed something in that extra 15 minutes, you’d find time for it. That means you can find time for yourself.
- Get cardio in with the kids. We have pretty much every kind of workout at our fingertips these days. Pick a short one, clear out a space and get your sweat on. The kids can do it along with you (if they’re too young, put them in their yes space during this time). Of course, their “workout” is going to be a set of really goofy moves until they become bored so have some things for them to do next easily available. Again, even 20 minutes of cardio a few times a week can make a real impact on your overall mental and physical health.
It’s hard for caregivers to care for themselves. If you can’t muster the mental energy to do it for yourself, remember that you’re modeling self-care to the kids watching.