As a parent, family life is one of the most intense periods of your life. Where you used to be annoyed by the alarm that goes off at 7, with a family you’re happy when you can sleep in until 7. In fact, if you’ve been able to sleep continuously for a few hours, you’re eternally grateful. During the day you work, but you are also busy with spreading bread, vacuuming crumbs, tidying up toys and –a never-ending story– doing laundry. A walk to the supermarket can feel like a wonderful moment for yourself. Nevertheless, it is important that you make time for yourself, even when you’re running a busy household. But how do you find balance between you and your family?

Exercise, food and sleep

An important basis for everyone in life is: exercise, food and sleep. Especially when you’re living a busy life, it is extra important to feel fit!

  • Exercise. You can feel fit by exercising and working out on a regular basis. Find a sport that you enjoy and plan a number of fixed moments per week. Feel like you don’t have time to work out? There is always time. If you have a partner, you can alternate between putting the kids to bed and playing sports, setting the alarm an hour earlier or arranging a babysitter. It’s definitely worth it, because exercise is important! Read more about exercise.
  • Food. To ensure that you eat healthy and varied, you can plan a few things and, for example, do weekly shopping. To be prepared is half the victory! Take a moment during the weekend to look up some fun recipes. Read more about healthy food
  • Sleep. Getting enough sleep can be challenging with small children. Yet, you do have control over a number of things. For example, go to bed on time as much as possible (watch less Netflix). Sufficient exercise also ensures a better night’s sleep. Read more tips about sleeping.

Stay focussed on yourself

In addition to having a strong basis, it’s important to stay focussed on yourself. A family requires a great deal of your attention. Therefore, consciously plan moments for yourself. When I flew around the world as a flight attendant, these moments were integrated into my work. Flying colleagues with children always agreed: the moments for yourself “at destination” are wonderful! A moment to focus on yourself, in whatever form, breaks the grind and gives you energy. It gives you the peace and space to keep thinking about yourself. It is important that when you take care of the children together with your partner, both of you take time for yourself and encourage each other to do so.

Setting priorities

Think about what is important to you. You have little time, so what are your priorities? Think of work, education, sports, friends and holidays for example. This is how you set your priorities:

  • Make a list of activities you would like to do.
  • When you’re together with a partner, you can both make a list of things you think are important to do. Support, motivate and encourage each other in this!
  • Also keep doing fun things together such as a night out, dinner or meeting friends.
  • Good planning is everything, this will prevent it from “falling short”.

Babysitter

Call in help, you can use it! Both when you want to do things with your partner (if you have one) or with friends, and when you want to do something for yourself. A family is busy, so getting some help from a babysitter is more than welcome.

Feelings of guilt

Sometimes parents experience feelings of guilt when they do something for themselves. If you are experiencing these feelings, it is important to first ask yourself why this happens. Feelings of guilt are often taught by your environment (eg through education), or imposed by yourself (eg by your own norms and values). You can also:

  • ask yourself why you feel guilty. Am I falling short as a parent? Am I doing something wrong?
  • replace your negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Instead of thinking: “I’m a bad parent because I’m abandoning my family,” you can also think: “I’m a great parent and I show my kids what you can get out of life.”

Finally

In the daily grind of a busy family, it can seem like you have no time for anything. First realize: there is always time. The question is, what are you doing with that time? A busy life forces you to set priorities and this can have a positive effect on your time management. You think about the things you think are truly important, and work on it accordingly.

Tip: you can use the NiceDay agenda to plan moments for yourself. Take care of yourself, your family, set priorities and remember that relaxed parents make happy children! Download the app here

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Maaike van der Kaaij

My name is Maaike and I am a psychologist at NiceDay. During sessions with my clients I find it really important they feel free to tell me everything. I am interested in people's behaviour and enjoy helping people gain new insights! Besides my work, I love my family, travelling, working out and going out to dinner.

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