Just the other day, I was sitting and; reflecting on my struggles with self-care and self-love in the early stages of motherhood. Maybe if I knew anything about self-care as a child, I would not have struggled to care for myself when the pressures and demands of life as a mom came, I thought to myself. I realized then that I wanted my daughter to be able to take care of herself because children need self-care too. They need to learn how to thrive even on tough days. And how to take care of their mental health and their health holistically. The good thing is that we can teach our kids how to practice self-care. Here are my thoughts on self-care for kids.
Create a routine for them
For the longest time, I was clueless about creating a winning routine for my daughter. It is not that we did not have one; we were just not intentional about it. I have grown to believe that a routine for kids is underrated. Its importance cannot be over-emphasized. Children thrive from having a routine because it gives them the structure that they crave. Fear of the unknown is normal for children, and routines help them feel safe and settled, giving them a sense of security. When we created a routine for our daughter, I noticed a sense of calmness in her – as though she was happy she knew what came next (she can even recite her morning and evening routines). When establishing routines; it is vital to see what is essential to your family. However, you can consider your child’s interests and needs. It is also good to be flexible while instilling healthy habits using routines.
Make it safe for them to talk to you about their feelings.
My struggles as a grown-up were opening up in relationships, I felt guilt and shame about expressing my feelings. This started from a very young age, meaning that this can happen to our children too. I would encourage you to create an environment that is safe for children to talk to you. My husband and I have introduced mommy and daughter time and mommy and daddy time and use this time to listen to what our daughter has to say.
We listen to her questions and answer them honestly. At first, it was easier to dismiss questions and feelings that made me feel uncomfortable and inadequate. Now I can tell my daughter when I do not know the answer to a specific question or how to deal with something. I do assure her that I will seek counsel and get back to her.
Allow them to do things themselves.
I am a mom to a 6-year-old, and she doesn’t do things as quickly as I would like her to, especially on school mornings. So I sometimes do her tasks for her instead of allowing her to do them herself. It is quick, yes but, it is not wise! Allowing them is not only an investment in the future of your child (cultivates independence). It also communicates that you are confident in them and trust them to do things on their own.
Involve Kids in your self-care activities.
I have learned something about kids. They do not do what you say; they do what you do ~ Jennifer Lopez.
I believe that involving our children in our self-care activities is a way to model self-care for them. My daughter would often ask to join me when I put on my face mask (Do not worry, I put aqueous cream on her face because I do not know where to get face masks for 6-year-old girls).
Honestly, I think that self-care is essential to parenting because we cannot take care of our children unless we have taken care of ourselves first. To model self-care to your children, you need to be practicing self-care yourself. I have found that sometimes kids do not want to join in on your self-care activity; they want to know why you have to practice it in the first place – take the time to explain to them because it is an opportunity to educate them about self-care.
If they do not find your self-care activities enjoyable, here are some ideas for kids.
Self-care Ideas for Kids
Here are some self-care ideas for kids. However, before introducing the self-care ideas, I think you should ask your kid what he/she enjoys doing.
- Encourage journaling (my daughter makes drawings because she cannot write yet).
- Practice gratitude with them by asking them to say, write or sing what they are thankful for (My daughter and I sing this Thank you song by Cocomelon)
- Help them process their emotions by asking them questions like:
- How was your day?
- What was your most enjoyable moment about today? How did that make you feel?
- Did anything make you sad or upset today? Ask them to tell you all about it.
- Get out into nature
- Cultivate Reading time
- Encourage games that stimulate the mind (Chess, puzzles – depending on the age)
- Spend quality time with them. (In our home, we have introduced mommy and daughter time for bonding with mom alone, daddy and daughter time for bonding with dad, family time for all of us, and kid time for our daughter alone).
- Allow your kids to phone/communicate with loved ones that do not stay with you.
- Encourage your kids to pick their outfits
- Teach them to pack their toys away and put things where they stay so that they can find them easily
- Encourage sleep and rest (routines come in handy here)
- Preparing food that will nourish and help them to function properly
- Encourage outdoor play
- Encourage and help your kids to practice spiritual self-care according to your beliefs. We are Christian, and we read the bible and pray with her. Some evenings our daughter will pray for us.
Our children may be little now but they will grow up pretty soon. What we teach them matters. The Bible says that we should train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it ~ Proverbs 22:6 NKJV. These are my thoughts and lessons on self-care for kids. How are you teaching your kids about self-care?