Before I had kids, I taught kindergarten. It was exhausting but at the end of the day I got to go home to my peace and quiet, self-care seemed easy.
‘Filling up my cup’ was easy because nobody else needed me.
I foolishly thought that teaching had somewhat prepared me for children. I was wrong. So so so wrong.
Motherhood, for me, has been all consuming. I have chosen to parent my children in a what is considered “attachment parenting.” I cannot even imagine parenting any other way but some days I find myself guiltily longing for that peace and quiet. My second baby has taught me that while parenting is hard, it is so so important that we prioritize ourselves too.
How can we be good parents when we have nothing left to give? We can’t.
We get frustrated more quickly, we lose our temper more often, we long for that peace and quiet more intensely. I have found a few ways to fill my cups in some quick and easy ways that allow me to be the best parent possible to my children.
1. Start the Day with Self-Care: Coffee/Tea Time
This starts my day and I try to set myself up each morning for success. If I get to have hot coffee or tea, my day is infinitely better. I don't know why. I don't make the rules. It just works.
So, every night, I set up an activity for my kids so that as soon as they wake up, they have something to do while I enjoy my coffee. It is the single best thing I do for myself.
Some of my favorite activities are “The Floor is Lava” where I throw some pillows on the floor or some precut paper circles on a rug and tell my kids they can only stand on those. They jump from pillow to pillow or circle to circle and think it is hilarious. It gets them moving without much effort from me.
That is a win/win in my book.
2. Go on a walk/run:
Sometimes my kids just need fresh air. Heck, sometimes I need fresh air.
Some days I don't really feel like I can chase my kids as they run in opposite directions so I throw them in their stroller or wagon, give them snacks and put a bunch more under the seat/in the basket and just go. My kids have gone out in pajamas, and in just diapers, and in some really questionable outfits, but it works.
Fresh air and snacks relax them. I get a few minutes to not be touched or called upon and just get to walk. I usually put an ear bud in and listen to my favorite True Crime podcast. Other times, I call a friend to just talk and vent. A 10 minute walk can be enough some days to fill my cup, other days it takes an hour.
3. Go on a drive: A Change of Scene for Self-Care
I won’t lie. This is my favorite one. I have it down to a science. I have a bunch of snacks and activities in my car ready at all times. I also keep water cups in there and diapers/underwear so I can just grab my own water to fill theirs and go.
Some days I drive through a coffee shop and get myself a nice treat and water. Some days I just drive around and listen to my music or my True Crime Podcasts. On good days, my kids take a nap and I get to chill with my coffee and my podcast.
4. Read a book while your kids play:
I love to read. I have loved reading since I was a young child and parenting has made it so difficult to find time for my reading. I have started prioritizing it and even a few pages make me into a new person and an overall better parent. As a bonus, my kids see me reading and also want to read sometimes so it ends up being a win-win.
I know these all sound a little too perfect. Not all days go super well. Some days I have to take my kids into the car kicking and screaming because I so desperately need that time. Other days, I turn on the TV just to get those 5 minutes of peace and hot coffee. Parenting is a 24/7 job for me and I have learned one thing: I cannot be a good parent if I do not take care of myself.
There is no shame in choosing you. A stroller, TV, the car won’t ruin your child’s life but it can change your entire day. Your day matters. Enjoy those small moments because you deserve them. You are important, too.
About the Author
Jessica is a Latinx mom to a boy and a girl. She currently lives in California with her husband, babies, and a super cuddly pup. She has many hobbies but her favorites include dancing, hiking, and true crime podcasts.
What are some ways you fill your cup? How do you keep your kids entertained? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!