Self care is often only discussed in the context of how it can benefit and be practiced by individuals, as the name ‘self’ suggests. However, this is a very limited way to view it, as enjoying self care as a family can do wonders for the wellbeing of both parents and children.
As a parent, you need to meet your needs to be able to meet your child’s needs, and self care can help to address both of these. Practicing self care means that we are more likely to be physically, emotionally and mentally able to handle the pressures of everyday life. For busy families, prioritising self care means that parents are better able to care for their children and children will have positive examples of emotional regulation, gratitude, healthy eating, exercise and kindness explicity modelled for them, whch will help them learn to replicate these behaviours.
What are the Basics of Self Care for Families?
Self care offers a holistic approach to wellbeing and is all about taking care of your body and your mind. Though you may not have purposefully engaged in family self care, chances are you already do some of these things! The most fundamental aspect of self care for families is spending quality time together with the only expectation being to enjoy each other’s company. This can be as simple as sharing a meal together, playing a board game or reading a story. To take care of your physical health, eating nutritious food that you enjoy and engaging in movement together is where it all begins.
How to Practice Self Care as a Family
Make Time for Individual and Shared Self Care Activities
It is important to make time for self care on a regular basis. If you feel like your family’s life is too busy for self care, its likely that self care is exactly what you need!
Think of family self care as an ongoing wellbeing plan, not a reactive response to when things are getting to be too much. By building self care into your family’s schedule and routines, it will easily become habitual. In making self care a priority, you’ll be improving the happiness of everyone in your home and instilling life long patterns of positive wellbeing for your children.
How Can you Make Time for Family Self Care?
- Remember that little bits of self care add up; just five to ten minutes a day can make a huge difference over the course of a week.
- If your self care activity feels overwhelming, or like too much of a time commitment, try to simplify it. For example, if you’re feeling stressed out by planning a beach day or a rainforest hike, try to fit in 15 minutes at a local park or a walk around the block instead.
- For adults, be mindful about how you use your free time. To fit self care into your day, trying taking your lunch break outside instead of staying at your desk, or swapping out an hour of social media scrolling before bed with reading or watching a show with your partner.
Family Self care Ideas
Emotional Self Care for Families
- Warm fuzzies (write each other positive notes or give compliments)
- Say ‘I love you’
- Talk about or write about your favourite memories
- The peak and the pit – this one is great for dinnertime, where everyone can share their ‘peak’, the best part of their day, and their ‘pit’, a part of the day they didn’t enjoy. It encourages and normalises sharing feelings and receiving support from family members
- Tell jokes
- Sing your favourite songs
- Have a picnic, even in your own backyard
- Look through your child’s baby pictures with them, or show them photos from your childhood
Physical Self Care for Families
- Play at the park
- Go for a bike ride
- Have a dance party
- Go swimming at the pool or the beach
- Play soccer in the backyard
- Do some yoga, there are great kid’s yoga videos on youtube
- Go for a walk, even just around the block
- Skip with a rope – bonus points if you use a long rope so two family members are holding the ends while others take turns to jump
- Do the hokey-pokey
Mental Self Care for Families
- Kid’s meditation
- Play brain games like memory
- Observe your surroundings, using the five senses (What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? What do you taste?), or by playing I-spy
- Read stories together
- Write a story together
- Look for shapes in the clouds
- Make a mindfulness jar by adding water, glitter and food dye to a bottle or jar with a lid
Home Self Care for Families
- Do a five minute tidy up of a space together
- Declutter the toy or game cupboard
- Cook a meal of snack together
- Make a meal plan for the week
- Do some gardening
Spiritual Self Care for Families
- Start a gratitude journal (they’re great before bed activities to relax) or make a gratitude list
- Spend time in nature
- Do something kind for someone else
- Positive affirmations
- Write a thank you note to family member, friend or educator
- Teach your child about a family tradition
- Care for another living thing, like watering a plant, feeding a family pet or even giving a family member a hug
Social Self Care for Families
- Visit or facetime with relatives
- Go on a play date
- Play a board game with the family
- Organise a catch up with friends, like a barbeque or a pool day
- Invite your friends or family over
- Talk about how to be a good friend
Practicing self care as a family can be hugely beneficial for parents and children alike as it helps to keep a positive, balanced emotional and physical state for everyone in the home. We hope you’ve learnt something new about self care in this blog about the importance of self care for families, and have some ideas about how to implement it into your family routine or expand your existing self care activities in the future.