In recent years, a hot topic on mommy blogs has been the need for self-care and the integral role it plays in keeping a healthy mommy-child relationship. You’ve probably even heard the old adage “you can’t pour from an empty cup” used as a reminder to moms that it’s impossible to give of themselves day and night without refilling their own physical, mental and emotional tanks from time to time. And this is important advice for moms to hear!
But… what about dads? (Insert the gentle hum of a thousand crickets here.)
Although we’re living in the era of an all-time high level of working-dad involvement in kiddos’ daily lives, and although more and more men are staying home with their children while their partners work, you’d be hard-pressed to find much written in the blogosphere about self-care for dads.
Here’s the thing: self-care is absolutely essential for all parents, dads just as much as moms. Without it, you can’t fully function in your parental role. In fact, your relationship with your children will actually suffer if you don’t make sure you’re fulfilling your own, very human needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to self-care, though, and it’s worthwhile for dads to think about what will benefit them most. Here are the six types of self-care to consider:
1. Practical – This basic type of self-care means fulfilling core aspects of your life in order to reduce stress. (Think budget planning, automobile maintenance or professional development.)
2. Emotional – This means anything that helps you connect to and process your emotional life. (Examples might include journaling, playing music or speaking with a counselor.)
3. Physical – This important self-care means working to improve your bodily wellness. (Think a lunch-time sweat session at the gym, taking time to pack a healthy lunch or getting more sleep each night.)
4. Mental – These activities challenge and stimulate both your mind and your natural sense of curiosity. (Examples include reading a book, doing a puzzle or watching a documentary.)
5. Social – This type of self-care refers to anything that nurtures your important relationships. (This could mean weekly phone calls with your old college roommate, lunch with a buddy or a date night with your spouse.)\
6. Spiritual – These are activities that allow you to think outside of yourself and nurture your spiritual or religious needs. (Examples include going to church, taking a yoga class or hiking in nature.)
In an ideal world, we could all take time to fulfill each of the six types of self-care regularly, but that’s not likely to happen in the hectic parenting reality most of us live in. So, dads should try to identify where their passions lie and understand what types of self-care best help them clear the parenting cobwebs.
Fatherhood isn’t easy. Dads have many obligations to balance, and it can be difficult to find time for themselves. Just as moms need encouragement to think about self-care, dads can benefit from friendly reminders that their needs are valid and deserving of time, too.