Self-Care for Parents of Teens
Adolescence can be a difficult time in life for both teens AND parents. If you are the parent of a difficult, defiant, rebellious or troubled teen, you likely go through periods of anger, frustration, stress, and exhaustion. Research has shown that conflict in the family is one of the most destructive factors on a person’s health and quality of life. As a result, it is crucial that parents of teens make an effort to stay on top of their own health and have some strategies for self-care in their toolbox. You are doing hard and important work in raising children, and you deserve the ability to recharge!
To be able to care for the people we love, we must first take care of ourselves. When we take an active role in protecting our own well-being and happiness, especially during periods of stress, we are better able to handle challenges, adapt to changes, build strong relationships and recover from setbacks. Below are some practical and simple self-care strategies for parents to take while dealing with the highs and lows of adolescence.
- Enjoy a relaxing activity. Give yourself permission to relax! Whether it’s taking a bath, reading a book, listening to music, enjoying nature, or creating something artistic, finding a positive way to unwind can help you cope with stress. You don’t have to do it every day or for a long time for the activity to help relax you, and when you’re able to take time to relax, you become a better version of yourself, more able to be helpful and productive the rest of the time.
- Get enough sleep. Adults generally need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Prioritize practicing good bedtime habits – avoiding screens before bed, creating a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the hours before sleeping, and reducing distractions in your bedroom. When we get enough sleep, we are more patient, understanding and productive.
- Exercise. Exercise can take many forms, such as taking the stairs whenever possible, walking up escalators, and running and biking rather than driving. Joining a class may help you commit to a schedule, if that works best for you. Daily exercise naturally produces stress-relieving hormones in your body and improves your overall health.
- Eat well. Eating mainly unprocessed foods like whole grains, vegetables and fresh fruit is key to a healthy body. Eating this way improves your mood, stabilizes your energy levels, and lowers your risk for illness.
- Go on a date with your spouse. Teens can almost seem to rule the house. We can forget what it’s like to be anything other than a parent. Take time out to enjoy some time with your spouse. Do something you both enjoy and talk about things not related to parenting. It will improve your marriage and offer some space to relax.
- Practice relaxation exercises. Deep breathing, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation are easy, quick ways to reduce stress.
- Enjoy a hobby. Exploring your interests is a great way to relax and take your mind off your problems. Whether it’s an activity that you learn now or one you used to do when you were younger, make time for something that recharges you.
- Visit with friends. You may feel you don’t have the time to stay in touch with friends or start new friendships, but you should focus on the long-term. We are better people when we stay connected to others, so try to do a few things to maintain friendships, even if it’s just meeting a friend for lunch once a month. Being a caregiver is an important part of your life, but it’s not the whole story.
- Join a parenting support group. Support groups exist to reassure you that countless other people have faced similar challenges and understand your concerns. Talking about your experiences can help. The idea that you can, or should be able to, “solve” things by yourself is false. Support groups are a great way to find like-minded people who can offer sympathy and advice.
When you’re a parent of a teen, it can be incredibly hard to find time for yourself, and even when you do, you may feel distracted by thinking about what you “should” be doing instead. But learning to make time for yourself is critical and ultimately helps the entire family. When the parents in a family are recharged, they are better able to cope with stress, remain patient, and demonstrate their love.