Everyone knows that having kids can be a financial burden. From the moment they are conceived, child-related spending can make a huge dent on a household’s expenses – no matter how financially-prepared a family can be.
When we got pregnant with our eldest, we had to make huge adjustments to our spending. My husband and I both each had our own sources of income and it’s safe to say that we had to let go of some of our small luxuries (and even vices) to accommodate an infant in our budget. Monthly manicure and pedicures were replaced with wellness checkups to the Pediatrician, and we bought playsets and educational toys instead of the latest gadgets. Most of the time, I set out to shop for myself and end up with a bagful of kiddie clothes instead (raise your hand if you can relate).
We might not notice it most of the time because motherhood brings with it a certain amount of selflessness especially when it comes to our kids. It’s quite common to hear moms (and even dads) say that they can make do with less – out of style clothes and shoes, worn out underwear, and barely hanging on smartphones, as long as their kids have everything they need – new and proper clothes, a good school, and even extra-curricular activities. Truly, nothing beats that fulfillment we ourselves feel when we see our kids have everything they need and so much more.
But on the other hand, this kind of all-giving, forget-yourself kind of parenting can be a slippery slope. While raising a child can be the most rewarding and joyful thing in the world, it can also be all-consuming. Sooner or later we’ll realize that we have lost ourselves in parenting and our kids. And while we might see spending on ourselves as some kind of valiant sacrifice for our kids’ benefit, it might have negative repercussions in the long run. Spending on ourselves is a form of self-care and whether we’d like to admit it or not, everyone has their limits in self-sacrifice and that includes us, parents.
It is important to prioritize and take care of ourselves too. Because after all, an empty cup has nothing to left to give, and an empty person or an empty parent is the same. The more fulfilled we are as individuals, the more we have to give as parents to our kids. Aside from shopping for yourself, here are a few ways to practice self-care as parents.
Take some time to focus on yourself. Self-care can be different for each individual. For some it could mean hitting the gym regularly, keeping up on annual physical exams and doctors’ appointments, or even regular meet up with friends or pampering sessions. Basically, it could mean anything that will leave you feeling balanced, happy, and fulfilled. So it could definitely include maintaining a social life away from your family and kids. This means that you don’t have to feel guilty about including that once-in-a-blue-moon quick drink or movie with friends every once in a while.
Establish your own support network. Most of the time, lack of childcare is one of the main difficulties in scheduling time for ourselves – whether as individuals or as married couples. Not all of us have a full-time nanny, which means that we are with our kids 24/7. However, one workaround we can consider is tapping our own families for help. We can use this as an opportunity for our kids to bond closer with their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Even one night a week or every two weeks with them, while you and your husband go out on a date (or even separate nights with friends, lol), will do everyone good.
At the same time, if no immediate family help is available, you and your husband yourselves can take turns. You can leave the kids with him and go on that pampering session with your girls. Alone time with either parent will also go a long way in your kids establishing better relationships with each of you.
It’s ok to treat yourself once in a while. If we’ve not said it enough: yes, it’s ok to splurge on yourself from time to time. Leave the mom-guilt at home and go ahead and buy that tube of lipstick, that handbag, or even that underwear. Because the more that you feel good and confident about yourself, the better chances that you’ll be a better person and parent because of it. And admit it, it’s time to retire that ratty underwear/shoe/lipstick 😉.
No one wants to be a cranky mommy (or even daddy for that matter). Because being one could affect our kids and our relationship with them in the long run. And perhaps, the best way to prevent becoming a monster parent is to take the time and effort to take care of ourselves first.