One image that is often used to explain the importance of taking care of yourself as a parent is the oxygen mask: in aircraft, preventive safety messages indicate that adults must first put on their own oxygen masks and then help children put on their own.
It is sometimes (often?) difficult for us to overcome the obstacles to taking care of ourselves: obstacles that can be part of the organization (freeing up time, finding someone to look after the children…) but also psychological barriers (it would be selfish to take care of ourselves; as parents, it is always the needs of the children that should prevail; I must ensure as all other parents seem to do…). However, what would we say to a person who is dear to us if he or she came to us and confided in us about his or her need for rest and calm but did not give himself or herself permission or time to nourish these needs? We would probably encourage him to take this time to devote himself to resourcing activities… why not show the same empathy towards ourselves?
Taking care of yourself does not necessarily have to be time-consuming or involve travel, childcare (with the organizational and logistical problems that this can cause). It can simply consist of sitting down for 3 minutes in full consciousness, focusing on the regular breath and the belly that goes up and down according to the breaths in and out.
In order to remember the importance of taking care of ourselves, our needs and showing self-empathy for vulnerable spaces within ourselves, we could get into the mental habit of checking our energy level throughout the day. This can be done in the form of a visualization of a colored thermometer: green, the energy level is OK; orange, it may be necessary to take a short break (sort of “micro holidays” by meditating for a few minutes, having a cup of tea or having a little pleasure); red, a real break is necessary and external help may be necessary (spouse.e, grandparents, baby sitter, extended family, public support devices such as IWHPs, finding listening and empathy on virtual groups or communities…).
I propose a list of 30 activities that can nourish the need for calm and rest to take care of yourself as a parent (list neither exhaustive nor prescriptive:)).