Parenting and self-care
When Sarah Musyimi Bamba, Ceo and Founder of Bamba Adventures and Events had her first child, she was young and the excitement of having him made her forget about time.
“Every little chance I had was time spent with my baby,” she narrates.
“I even found myself taking him to my chama meetings because I simply couldn’t stay away from him,” she adds.
However, things changed when baby number two came eight years ago, when her first child was aged 6. She began to feel burnt out and realised the significance of having time out in parenting.
“I’m grateful for being a parent, but sometimes it can be overwhelming and one can easily lose themselves in the process of doing this. You lose touch with friends too and I realised that I needed time to re-focus,” she continues.
Constantly demanding attention
Self-care is the buzzword and the new fad in social media presently. Even as the world is getting more chaotic, psychologists are encouraging parents to take time out from parenting and take care of themselves. Raising children is a round the clock job as they are constantly demanding attention. Consequently, when parents allow their children to constantly have a say on what’s done, and are at their beck and call, it can be emotionally and physically draining, especially when one fails to take care of themselves.
“Adults need rest just as children do. We need time for ourselves, to be with our friends, and to do things that also make us happy like our hobbies. Since children are not developmentally capable of understanding the limits of the parent’s focus and energy, they often think that you have an unlimited supply of energy, which is not true.
Being a parent doesn’t mean sacrificing your mental health, but finding the right balance between family and yourself and managing it in a way that makes you be a better parent,” explains Sara.
For her self care, the mother of two admits that she loves taking trips with her friends, which is both work and leisure being in the travel industry. When that is not an available option, she will opt to go out for rhumba, eat out, dance, anything that will make her rejuvenated and come back home a happy mother.
“Sometime back, I used to go for solo hikes once a week with just a guide.
It was refreshing and also helped with fitness. Since my husband works outside the country, we always ensure that when he comes back, we have nature walks together.
It brings the bond back for couples. We find ourselves going down memory lane and it’s the best feeling,” says Sara.
Sara believes that it is guilt that makes some parents not take time out for themselves.
Most of the times, parents feel or have been raised to think that taking time for yourself is selfish. With such a mindset, most parents continually give to others until they have no more to give in the end. As a result, they end up being bitter and can lose the joy of parenting because they feel that their children have robbed their lives.
“Some don’t know it’s important. Some may feel it’s a waste of money and some can’t afford it due to the hard times as it may need some finance. They don’t know that when all you do is give, give, give, without recharging your batteries, it can result in becoming run down,” she adds.
According to psychologist Elmard Regan, parents should learn how to draw boundaries with their children to also ensure that their needs are met. They should also learn to overcome the guilt of taking time off when they feel overwhelmed for the sake of their mental health.
“One thing that parents can do is to make choices about what time they will spend participating in their children’s activities and what time they will spend taking care of themselves and doing the things that they love. They should learn that it is not selfish to put restrictions on the things that their children are requesting them to do. You have a right to have a life, too and it is not selfish to take care of yourself. It is a necessity,” Regan advices.
Some of the activities that he recommends include, spending less time on social media as it enables parents to stop competing or comparing their parenting skills with others. Parents can also make time for themselves by going on solo vacations, or go on lunch dates or spend time reading a book. A quick five minute meditation too can assist you feel rejuvenated and there are many apps, websites and audio files that can walk you through the steps. Going on nature walks is also good for you, going on a hike, a walk in the park or jogging is also another way of recharging.
In addition, parents can call a baby sitter once in a while and just switch off. A few hours of adult time can restore your soul and outlook of the world. They can also go to bed early. Lack of sleep leaves people sluggish, moody and one is likely to get sick if it continues because of lack of rest.
“If you are spending every waking moment with your child day in and day out and ignoring your needs, ask yourself whether your children are getting the best version of you. If not, then it’s time to take a break and do better. If you find yourself in a situation where your needs and your child’s are in conflict then you need to ask whether your child’s needs can wait or how to bring a balance to both needs,” Regan says in conclusion.