Without the frenzy of sports practices, theatre rehearsals, getting homework done and packing lunches for the next day, the summer months provide a few weeks parents to slow down a bit. But now that a new school year has begun, we’re wondering if there is a way to still find some calm amid all the activities and to-do lists.
We reached out to Asal Houshiarnejad, PsyD, a mom of three young kids under the age of 8 and a therapist in Calabasas, for some tips.
When our kids head back to school, there is a sense of frenzy. What can parents do to create calm for themselves?
First, it’s important to try to not let your “emotion mind” get the best of you. I believe incorporating mindfulness practices such as grounding yourself through deep breathing, meditation (even if it’s only a few minutes) or rehearsing a mantra that can allow you to stay centered and calm can be really helpful. When you’re calm and centered, then you can feel more equipped with dealing with the changes that come with going back to school.
- Plan and organize. Prepare in advance by creating a schedule or a to-do list of what you need for back-to-school. Having a clear plan can help reduce feelings of chaos and uncertainty.
- Delegate tasks and ask for help. If possible, try to involve other family members in helping with back-to-school preparations and responsibilities. Sharing the workload can help [parents] avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Be flexible. Understand that things may not always go as planned. Embrace the flexibility and adaptability to navigate unexpected changes smoothly.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle and routine. Ensure you are getting enough sleep and exercise and eating nutritious meals. Proper sleep, diet and exercise can significantly impact your mood and overall well-being, so you have the bandwidth to tolerate the overwhelm.
- Find ways to laugh even if it’s at small things.
A lot of moms, especially, feel like “self-care” is a luxury that they simply don’t have time to even think about. How do you define self-care?
I can understand that it can be very challenging to find time for yourself. I get it. However, self-care is not a luxury; it is a necessity. It is a fundamental aspect of maintaining your overall health and balance in your life in order to provide love, happiness, support and stability to your kids. In my opinion, a parent’s self-care is the fuel to help your kids thrive socially, physically, mentally and emotionally. I define self-care as a conscious action that a parent takes to promote their physical, mental and/or emotional well-being — guilt and judgment-free!
If a parent neglects to engage in self-care, it can lead to various negative consequences for both the parent and their family. For example, it can lead to: burnout and exhaustion; increased stress and anxiety; irritability and impatience; poor physical health; strained relationships; modeling unhealthy behavior and coping; decreased productivity; a diminished sense of self and possibly even emotional detachment.
To prevent these negative outcomes, it is essential for parents to recognize the importance of self-care and actively incorporate it into their daily lives. Prioritizing self-care not only benefits the parent’s well-being, but also enhances their ability to be present and engaged in their role as a parent that can contribute to a healthier and more fulfilling parenting experience while also strengthening their relationship with their children and family.
Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as finding moments of peace and nourishment in your daily life, such as taking a few minutes to enjoy your cup of coffee or tea in silence (even if that means waking up a few minutes earlier in the morning), reading a few pages of a book, talking to a friend, going for a walk, etc. Remember: You can’t pour from an empty cup. So, prioritize self-care and self-love so you can be the best you to those around you.
Are there simple adjustments we can make in our daily routines to create a better sense of calm/balance/peace/self-love?
Yes, incorporating some of these practices can help to make a significant difference in your overall well-being and help foster a healthier and more fulfilling life:
- Morning rituals: Start your day with a calming morning ritual. This can include a few minutes of meditation, deep breathing, exercising and enjoying a quiet cup of coffee. All of these can help to set a positive tone for the day ahead.
- Nature breaks: Take short breaks throughout the day to connect with nature. Step outside for a breath of fresh air, take a short walk or spend a few moments activating your five senses while observing the beauty of nature, which helps you to stay present.
- Gratitude practice: This is my most favorite option. Cultivating a gratitude practice by reflecting on the things you are thankful for each day can have a significant impact on creating a sense of calm, peace and self-love. What’s important is that you identify small aspects of the day that you’re grateful for. For example, I tell myself how grateful I am that I was able to hear my parents’ voice today, or that I was so grateful to listen to my kids laugh. I am not identifying achievements, but more the small day-to-day events that we can easily overlook.
- Digital detox: Personally, I can’t stand social media. To me, it’s a time-sucker and depletes positive emotions and energy and makes space for anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. I think it is very important to take regular breaks from screens and social media. Unplugging for a while can help reduce stress and help you stay more present in the moment so you can enjoy what’s in front of you. By being present, you’re automatically creating a sense of calm.
- Prioritize sleep: Aim for a sufficient and restful sleep each night. Good sleep is crucial for physical and mental well-being.
- Move your body: Engage in regular physical activity that you enjoy. It could be walking, dancing, yoga or any other form of exercise that makes you feel good.
- Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and treat yourself with the same compassion you would offer a loved one. Avoid self-criticism and embrace self-acceptance.
- Connect with loved ones: Spend quality time with family and friends who uplift and support you. Healthy social connections and relationships are vital for overall happiness.
- Set realistic goals: Break down your tasks and goals into manageable steps. Celebrate your achievements no matter how small they may seem.
- Enjoy hobbies: Make time for activities you love and that bring you joy, whether it is learning a new instrument, reading, painting, cooking or anything else that sparks your interest.
What are the biggest pain points you hear from moms in relation to caring for themselves and finding a sense of well-being?
The biggest pain points I hear from moms include the combination of the following:
- Time constraints
- Guilt and prioritization
- Lack of support
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Unrealistic self-expectations
- Financial constraints
- Stress and anxiety
- Comparison and judgment
What is the one thing you want to tell all moms in L.A.?
Don’t get caught up in the noise. Embrace relaxation, connect with nature, stay calm, be present, love yourself, be you and do you! Throw that unnecessary guilt and judgment away and focus on loving you so that you can give more love to those around you.
For more information on Dr. Houshiarnejad visit: email@example.com