17 Ways That Your Kids Can Teach You About Self-Care

Amy

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” Angela Shwindt 

Welcome to life at home with The Chadneys – it is not perfect, and we are definitely always learning from each other. Today I m writing to tell you how I am learning about self-care, inspired by my daughter. We have lots of tried and tested tips to share with you.

I am not known for my kitchen prowess. There, I said it. 

Gloat if you have to. 

Inviting you over for dinner requires a good bit of stress, denial, and swearing (and probably sweating). Heck, who am I kidding? That’s a normal night in our house if I am that evening’s chef.

I m not swearing at you. Or my family. Just at the food, I hope to be making for you.

(Side note – I have come to the conclusion that food made with love tastes better so all my endeavours are doomed anyway. I love YOU, not the cooking. Let us all go to our mums or friends’ houses who enjoy it – it’s called outsourcing and it is very good for you.)

After burning myself for the second time last night Birdie walked into the kitchen and said:

 “Muma, you GOTTA look after yourself!”.

She then went on to repeat herself several times as I consistently damaged myself in some way. 

Dinner, by the way, was not awful. We only had one food refuser. I was happy to help out in that respect since I was just relieved that the ordeal was over and more than delighted to carb-load-for-comfort.

It got me thinking though:

“Muma, you GOTTA look after yourself!”:

She is right you know. I m no martyr for the cause – I worked out years ago that if I want my mental health to survive then we allllll gotta do our bit in this house. BUT what I don’t do is make time to actually look after myself. 

What is ‘taking care’? hmmmmm I got curious – 

I tend to think of that as going beyond the necessary.

Beyond the functionary.

It has a nurturing feel to it. Taking time, taking care. 

It is going to look different for us all.

To help me get some ideas of what that could look like I thought that I’d better go back to the source – go back to the little love guru that is Birdie and ask a few questions. 

Below are some of the things she came up with -and that I’ve padded out a bit 🙂

Birdie waits patiently for scones to rise. Plot twist: Muma baked them. They will not rise.

Save for later if you don’t have time to read it just now – you‘ll be surprised by the simplicity and joy-making anecdotes! 

Birdie waits patiently for scones to rise. Plot twist: Muma baked them. They will not rise.

If you’re struggling with self-care, you might learn something by watching what your kids do. Even if they refuse to eat Brussel sprouts, they know important facts about how to keep our bodies and minds in top shape.

As adults, we sometimes neglect ourselves because we’re overwhelmed by responsibilities or feel like we don’t deserve to be treated with kindness.

Let children remind you to make yourself a priority.

I asked Birdie what makes her happy? Her answer was “Having Fun”. We went a little deeper and came up with ideas (for us old farts who forgot what that looked like 😉 

Having Fun

A quick game of noughts and crosses makes for a lovely break! Especially if you win 😉

A quick game of noughts and crosses make for a lovely break! Especially if you win 😉

Play games. Self-care offers serious benefits, but the process can be light-hearted. Turn your work into a game and plan fun activities for your leisure time.

This is obviously NOT something I have made. I like to look, wistfully, at pretty pictures of food..

Enjoy food. For Birdie this was mainly pizza and pasta – for us, well, it may or may not be a little different! You’re more likely to stick to a healthy lifestyle if you like what you’re eating. Think of food as your friend that you like spending time with. Think about how it makes you feel on the inside!

“Sing loud and proud for all to hear” – Elf. No one said every one else had to enjoy it 😉

Sing and dance. Music relieves stress and makes tedious tasks more pleasant. Create a playlist for routine paperwork and household chores. Sing in the shower, so you can start each day with more energy. (my dad was great at this and I still have very fond memories of ‘household cleaning night’ BECAUSE of his fun playlist and dancing)

This is obviously not me. If it was me I would have on my rainbow hat. That one is for joke telling.

Tell a joke. Give yourself a reason to laugh. Tell a funny story to your family or friends. Watch cartoons and cat videos. Look for the humour in challenging situations. (But for the love of god Birdie, PLEASE don’t keep telling the same bloody joke. NO thanks go to Christmas crackers for this latest phenomenon)

Please, wait until summer to try this outside!

Go barefoot. Do your feet ache by the end of the day? Going barefoot feels liberating and strengthens your muscles. Remove your shoes as often as possible. Treat yourself to a pedicure and foot massage – this is all about STOPPING and making time.

But, is Fun Enough?

Next, I asked her what makes her feel brave and proud of herself? I think that taking care of yourself often looks like achieving small goals and being kind to yourself. Here are some of the things we came up with:

Being Brave:

Being brave doesn’t always involve a cape – but its more fun if it does!
  • Try new things. Whether it is finally trying peanut butter for the first time, or public speaking: try something new. What would happen if we gave up because we fell down the first few times that we tried to walk? Give yourself credit for trying and value learning from experience.
  • Make friends. Schedule your own playdates (or ask your mum too). Invite a recently hired colleague out for lunch. Introduce yourself to another student in your barre class. Be brave and inbox that person that is your fb friend but you’d actually really like to hang out IRL with.
  • Speak up. Let others know what you really think. Kindly. And then listen. Have deep conversations with your loved ones and/or contribute to business meetings or class discussions.
  • Be creative. Experiment with different art forms. You may rediscover your love for finger painting or move on to metal crafting. Maybe you’ll prefer writing a novel or performing stand-up comedy. Maybe you need to move your body and take up dance.
  • Express enthusiasm. Birdie is great at this. She is the first to say “WELL DONE” loudly and proudly. Do you feel awkward about showing your appreciation? Don’t be. Brighten someone’s day by paying them a sincere compliment. If you can’t say it in person, send a note! Who doesn’t like a card in the mail or a kindly-worded email? Don’t be stingy. Better yet – Give yourself a round of applause for cleaning out the garage or throwing a dinner party. (I get it, I get it – I m taking notes!) 

Final thoughts:

Anything else? We all joined in for this one. Our collective final points towards better self-care are as follows…. 

Other Things Your Kids Can Teach You About Self Care:

  • Stay active. If you’re trying to push yourself to exercise, think about how children keep moving throughout the day. Working out will get easier if you make it a regular habit. Make sure it’s a fun one too!
  • Say no. (Nicely) A toddler’s favorite word can help you to honor your limits. Set boundaries and enforce them. Let others know how you expect to be treated – then stick to it. Turn down projects that would interfere with pursuing your main goals.
  • Ask for help. You can accomplish more when you’re willing to accept assistance from others. Encourage teamwork at the office. Tell your family and friends what kind of support you need to manage health conditions, recover from a breakup, help with childcare, assist you in having a break.
  • Take breaks. (Birdie and Bug were VERY enthusiastic about this one since we suck at balancing our time ) “Adults need recess too” could probably be seen on placards around our house – waved by neglected children whose only babysitter is Netflix.. Use your vacation days and pause between tasks. Allowing yourself adequate downtime reduces stress and increases your productivity.
  • Share your toys. Serving others is one of the most effective ways to enhance your happiness and wellbeing. Use your strengths and resources generously. This includes making dinners – even if you don’t love it. Volunteer in your community and donate to worthy causes. Feed birds, pick up litter and help your neighbors with yard work. Or simply – share your toys and don’t be mean!

Children may lose their socks, but they usually remember to take care of themselves.

What I am learning this year is that allocating some regular me-time into my busy schedule will help me feel more connected to myself and others. It may not help me in the kitchen, but then again, maybe it will. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Amy Chadney
    @Copyright 2022 Amy Chadney