kids self-care

5 Ways to Address Self Care with Kids

Self-care has been a journey for me, and along the way, I’ve hoped to teach my kids the importance of self-care for themselves as well.

I want them to know that I’m not ignoring them or their *very immediate* needs (like the opening of the fruit snack package) but attending to my own so that I may be *better* for them.

Sometimes the explanation works, sometimes it doesn’t.

I don’t hold it against my babies for not understanding that I need to take care of my needs ahead of theirs at times, because they don’t fully comprehend what that means just yet.  I’m ok with that.

As I’ve worked my way through what self-care means to me, my daughters have each discovered what it means for them.


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Addressing Self care with kids

I interviewed my two oldest daughters (8 and 6) for this article and asked what I’ve helped them to identify as steps they take for their own self-care.

Snuggles

time with mom

“When I snuggle you, it calms me down.” -R

Snuggles are a big deal in our house.  When they were younger, it feels like we snuggled all the time.  As a breastfeeding mama, it was just kind of built into the day during feeding times, and then just kind of continued when the period of nursing was over.

Both my husband and I devour snuggle-time with our girls, knowing that it helps us to feel connected to them.  I was grateful to hear that our babes enjoy it just as much.

In terms of self-care, we know that this is a valuable tool when our girls are feeling overwhelmed.

They may be overwhelmed from a busy day and unable to identify that they’re tired, so we snuggle.  They may be overwhelmed from an argument with a sister and rage brims up to their eyeballs, so we snuggle.

They may be overwhelmed after firmly being told “No, you cannot watch another hour of Kids YouTube,” and even when I don’t want to because I am so upset at being screamed at, we snuggle.

The contact brings connection, and the connection brings peace.  There may be further issues to address or talk through, but the snuggles help us to catch our breath and return to a place of love and calm, allowing perspectives to be heard and addressed appropriately.

Balance

mom time with kids

“We try not to eat ramen every day.  Ramen isn’t very healthy, but when you eat it every once in awhile, it’s ok.” -L

So, I introduced my kids to Top Ramen over the quarantine period.  Their new-found love for it is my own fault entirely.  Over the last several months, they have asked for it for lunch every.single.day.

I made them a deal that they could have it for lunch twice a week while we were all home.  When I was met with LOTSSSSSSSS of begging and pleading for more “ramen days”, I had to explain further about taking care of our bodies by eating healthy foods.

While they didn’t (and likely still don’t) entirely agree with that, they listened.

Growing up, I wasn’t super keen on eating anything that wasn’t in the spectrum of the color beige…you know, rice, potatoes, tortillas, bread, corn, butter, pasta, etc.  Vegetables were “not my thing” and fruit consumption wasn’t frequent.  I was a picky eater by choice.

I didn’t really even have any desire to eat more nutritionally until after my first daughter was born, because I wanted more for her.  I wanted her to *like* fruits and veggies, and that was only going to happen if I ate them more, too.

As I learned to eat more nutritionally, I also learned how to BALANCE nutrient-dense foods along with indulging in those foods less nutritionally suggested *in moderation*.

I wanted this for my children also.  I wanted them to learn how to provide your body with healthy “growing” foods, but also not be afraid of a cupcake every so often.

When my kids told me their self-care included eating healthier foods, I felt like I #nailedit.

Staying active

kids home activities

“Exercise and doing Cosmic Kids (yoga) helps take care of us to make us strong and helps us get stronger.” -L

When I was a kid, it was important for my parents to have my brother and I stay active.  We were always in one sport or another, even if we weren’t (ok, I…I wasn’t) very good at it (my brother was good at everything, damn him.).

Even as an adult when I was absolutely overindulging in entire boxes of rice-a-roni or bags of puffy Cheetos, I still tried to stay active.

My weight, regardless of the number, has never been as important to me as feeling STRONG.

This has been especially important since I have three daughters.  I want them to have the kindest hearts and most respectful attitudes…but I also want them to be able to take care of themselves and know their own strength.

So, we move.  We have had dance parties every night, a mini bounce house in our living room, and a “Mommy Bootcamp” class (they asked for it, so I gave it to them).  They each have their own yoga mat for Cosmic Kids videos that we will stream, and kids’ activewear.

They watch the sweat drip down my face as I push myself and they cheer me on and then try to replicate it themselves.  We feel each other’s flexed biceps.  We celebrate the strong muscles on their little legs.  Both my husband and I let them watch us as we falter, tired and sore and persevere until our time/set/mileage is up.

And they get it.  They see that we work to be strong, and so they work to be strong.  They challenge themselves, they push, they fail, they persist, they succeed.  And they get that it is a form of self-care.

Having time with yourself

playing alone

“Having relax time and time with yourself maybe, like, once a month.  Time to do beading, rubber banding, talking to myself (whispers: feels too good because I don’t have these two party animals bothering me [points to sisters]).” -L

“Playing with my baby dolls and reading.  It feels exciting to me.” -R

Admittedly, I was glad that they *actually* recognized that this was a form of kid self-care (or ANY AGE self-care for that matter) because this is usually the one that they give me a hard time for.

They don’t understand why I don’t want to hang out with them, but that I NEED to hang out with ME.

Of course, 95% of the time we’re all together as a family, but breaks and alone time should be celebrated, and probably occur more frequently now that I’m thinking about it.

I mean, of course, I love my children and I love spending time with my family, but there are times that I need to connect with myself and have room to breathe without fear of interruption for a snack that is not actually my own.

Family Time

quality family time

“Family time makes me feel like I’m not alone, and I get to adventure with my family.  It makes me feel confident and excited to see what’s next.” -L

“Excited.” -R

Ok, so clearly, as evidenced by my middle daughter’s concise response, the interview needed to be done.

With that being said, I love that they identified that our family time also provided a means of self-care.

I want my children to feel secure independent of anyone else, but I also want them to know that our family will always be there for them.

Also, we totally go on as many adventures as we can (with the exception of 2020…), and I love that they love this.

My husband and I are eager to explore this world with them and it just fills my heart that they look forward to our family adventures as well.

Same, same

Kids’ self-care isn’t all that much different than adult self-care.  While the specific actions may differ (because playing with baby dolls doesn’t exactly sound like a thrilling time to me), the overall subject matter is still the same.

Teaching children self-care can be so much more valuable than even I gave it credit for.  Self-care will show our kids how they can address the challenges that they face or issues that arise.  It will show them that they are responsible, capable, and strong.

I’m here for it.

Jenelle S

Jenelle Stathes married her high-school sweetheart and they share their love with their three darling and fierce daughters. She works as the CEO of their small family business and as a group fitness instructor for a local gym. Jenelle was born and raised right here in Reno, Nevada, and is doing her best at living a non-judgy and tribe-loving mom life. She has experience with infertility, weight loss, body positivity, fitness, and most recently, a tummy tuck. You can follow Jenelle to laugh either with her or at her as she traverses through the daily adventures of motherhood.