In an episode of one of my favorite vlogs, The Sister Show, they talk about why it’s important not to talk about our children as if they’re burdens in our lives. As parents, we chose to welcome children into our lives, and we should be careful to show our children that we want them here. But that doesn’t mean that, as parents, we never get stressed out. Having a baby–even an “easy baby”–is hard work. Self-care is more important now than ever. It’s also harder to come by. Kids demand a lot of attention, giving us as parents limited time to take care of our personal mental health needs. These 10 quick ways to decompress as a parent can help!
1.) Drink a Hot Beverage
Making a cup of tea or coffee doesn’t take a lot of time out of the day, but it can have a huge benefit. One study shows that drinking a warm beverage can make you friendlier and make you feel better overall. There’s also something to be said for taking five minutes to sit, reflect, and drink a cup of coffee. When I take the time to make myself a nice cup of tea or coffee (I drink either, depending on my mood), I feel indulged and warmed through.
This is also easy to squeeze into a busy schedule. For me, I find it’s easiest to have a cup of warm tea before bed after I’ve put Babyface to sleep, but I know a lot of the
2.) Take a Shower
When you’re stressed out and looking for quick ways to decompress, 15 minutes can be a lifesaver. Taking a shower is relaxing. And if you’re like me and you spend most of your day reeking of baby vomit, it’s also necessary. Make sure you take the time you need. Showering only works as a way to decompress if you let it. We’re not talking a quick rinse while Baby is squawking on the bathroom floor. We’re talking a real shower.
There are 3 ways to get this done daily. The easiest is to do it while your spouse is watching the kids. Another option is to shower while your kid takes a nap. But while none of us love it, it’s also okay to leave your baby in the crib while you take a shower, even if they’re awake.
3.) Fold a Load of Laundry
Here’s a dirty little secret for you: I folded the same load of laundry three times last week. Something about making order out of chaos has been really calming for me. Meanwhile, actually hauling stacks of laundry upstairs and putting them away is significantly less calming. Maybe I’ll see to that issue in a different month’s organizational goals.
Regardless of what you do with it after, folding laundry can be one of the best quick ways to decompress. It gives you something to do with your hands. You can do it while watching TV or talking to your kids. With older babies, you could make it into a matching or color finding game. And if you don’t just dump it back into the bin to re-fold later, it can be productive.
4.) Read a Magazine Article
This may be an unpopular opinion these days, but I believe that every household should be subscribed to one magazine. In our home, it’s Game Informer. We keep it in the bathroom. When we go to the bathroom, instead of checking our phones, Ginger Snaps and I will read an article in the magazine.
Why? Phones are an addiction. The “always on” mentality is part of what keeps us stressed out and in a mental rut. Instead, we choose to use our bathroom breaks as mental breaks. We let our eyes take a break from backlit screens, and we read about something we care about. Magazine articles tend to be the perfect length for a bathroom break. We can read an article in 5-10 minutes. That’s enough time to recharge without stressing about what’s not getting done or whether we’re putting undue strain on our partner.
5.) Go for a Walk
Right after Babyface was born, walking was one of the best quick ways to decompress I could come up with. I needed the fresh air and I needed to stretch. It’s what ultimately made me feel like myself again. Ginger Snaps and I would go for walks together whenever cabin fever got bad. We’d take Babyface with us. After all, not all the quick ways to decompress as a parent have to involve stepping away from your child. Decompressing with your child can teach them to value self-care as well.
Now that it’s winter, it’s harder to go for a walk outside because it’s cold and slick. However, we still manage to go for walks. Sometimes, we’ll walk around Target or Walmart. Today, I took a break from working to walk the mall. There are ways to do it.
6.) Write in a Journal
Writing in a journal is a great, quick way to decompress. Journals provide a safe sounding-board for emotions. They can help you work through your feelings and get to know yourself better. It’s a great way to practice mindfulness.
Journaling doesn’t have to be the typical “talk about your day” variety, either. I got a “Can’t Sleep Write Now” journal for Christmas that I’m pretty stoked about. And I know that at least one
7.) Watch a Vlog
Speaking of vlogs, I wholeheartedly believe watching vlogs is one of the best quick ways to decompress. Watching a good vlog is like having a conversation with an inspirational friend.
I choose vlogs based on where I’m hoping to grow as a person. For example, Love Meg has great cleaning videos. Watching her videos simultaneously helps me decompress and get inspired to clean our home.
8.) Make a To-Do List
Once I became a mom, my brain became a constant ticker of things I need to do. My sleep took a serious hit despite the fact that my daughter sleeps through the night because I couldn’t slow my brain down enough to fall asleep.
Making a to-do list before bed is one of the best quick ways to decompress I found as a parent. Getting all of those tasks out of my head and onto paper tell my brain I won’t forget those tasks. That lets me relax and let go, which is key.
9.) Read One Chapter in a Book
Sometimes, as an adult, it feels like there is no time to read. When I was a kid, I could power through 3-4 books in a weekend. Now, I’m lucky if I get through a book in a month. As slow as it goes, however, I still make reading part of my daily life. Reading one chapter in a book doesn’t take me long–maybe 10-20 minutes–and the results are worth it. It makes me feel intellectually stimulated and calm.
For me, it works to have a few different books going at a time. It lets me reach for the book I’m in the mood for. My style is to always have a book for the following circumstances:
- Just for Fun (Currently Anne of Green Gables)
- For Education (Currently Whole Child Parenting: Birth to Age Five)
- To Read With My Husband (Currently the Last Kids on Earth)
- To Read With Babyface (Currently Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls 2)
While reading one chapter a day doesn’t seem like it would get you far, you’d be surprised by how much reading you’ll get done if you commit to just that. And you’ll feel better knowing you’re growing intellectually.
10.) Do Yoga
Yoga is great for stress relief. If you’re looking for the ultimate quick way to decompress, yoga is it. When I’m doing yoga regularly, I move easier, I have more energy, and I feel more positive. As a parent, those are necessities.
Not sure how to get started? YouTube has some great yoga videos. SaraBethYoga has tons of different routines, from yoga you can do while you’re sick to full body power yoga. Her videos range from 5 minutes to 30 minutes, so you can find the ones that work with your lifestyle. (And no, she’s not paying me to advertise her–I just really like her videos!)
At the end of the day, there are tons of quick ways to decompress as a parent. The most important thing is giving yourself space and grace to do so. It can feel selfish to take time for self-care when you have a child to take care of. One of the best quotes I’ve read on the matter is that it’s not “me firs,” but it is “me, too,” and that’s healthy.