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29 Self-Care Tips That Will Help You Survive Parenting

Buckle up. You got this.

Being a parent can be hard sometimes. OK, most of the time.

Fox / Via

You're responsible for yourself and also another human — possibly even multiple humans. It's an incredibly rewarding and wonderful thing, but it can also get overwhelming quickly.

So we asked members of the BuzzFeed Community what they'd suggest to stressed, busy, sleep-deprived parents.

We also checked in with clinical psychologist Christina Hibbert, Psy.D., founder of the Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition, for her advice. Here's what they had to say.

Remember: Everyone's situation is different, and comparing yourself to others is not productive or fair. So keep in mind that some of these may be helpful for you and some may be totally off base. Basically, take what you will, but know that you're not "doing it wrong" if some of these seem too much or too little for you.

1. Let go of any guilt you feel about taking care of yourself.

"There's this myth that were supposed to give, give, give to our children, and if we stop or put our feet up or tell them no or take time for ourselves, that people perceive that as selfish," says Hibbert. "But you can't be selfish if you don't have a self. And if you don't care of yourself, you essentially are not a self."

2. Wake up a little earlier if it'll help you be less stressed in the morning.

"Start each day on a good note. If you're unprepared, late, or unorganized, you are going to yell or scold the dilly dallying kid who has no concept of time. Make a morning game plan, wake up a half hour (or more if needed) before and execute."


3. Or just take that time to mess around on the internet. / Via

"I wake up about an hour earlier than I need to just to have a cup of coffee and play on my phone. Husband's asleep, kid's asleep, I finally get some GD time to myself. Seriously, on days I don't get that time, I am noticeably crankier."


4. Stop for a super quick walk-in massage between errands.

Travel Salem / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: travelsalem

"Walk-in foot or massage spas. The BEST for stress killing and relaxation. No need for an appointment. No need for a lot of time, there are 20-minute to 60-minute options. Also, they are cheap!"


5. Invest in a jogging stroller. / Via

"The purchase of our jogging stroller was the best thing we could have done. My 7-month-old has been literally attached to my hip since birth (he doesn't sleep in a crib, he sleeps on top of me). Pretty much every day, I take him outside and we go for a walk, jog, or rollerblade. And the hubs and I can go up to the local high school track and do sprints together. Oh, and the occasional glass of wine."


6. Aim to get at least five uninterrupted hours of sleep — by whatever means necessary.


New parents have probably heard the advice "sleep when the baby sleeps" more times than they can count. But if all you're getting is a handful of short naps, that's not really enough. "A lot of people don't recognize we need at least a solid chunk of five hours to just be mentally normal. Thats the bare minimum," says Hibbert.

So, yes, that's probably why you've been a zombie lately. Whatever you have to do — whether that's swapping nights with a partner/friend/family member or occasionally hiring a nighttime sitter you trust — do it. You will be a much more productive, healthy person for it.

7. But also, yes, take a nap if you need it.

Mollie Shafer-Schweig / Via Facebook: BuzzFeedParents

"Naps are your friend. Unless you have bugs/mold/fire — the chores will be there later. Just take a damn nap."

—Sara Lee via Facebook

8. Or use the kids' nap time to chill in complete silence.

"During nap time, I turn off the TV, light a candle, grab my favorite fleece blanket, and sit back and read in complete silence for about two hours. Those two hours of complete silence save me sometimes."

—Megan R. Suiter via Facebook

9. Join a parenting group or class.


"You will create a critical network of friends who you can share your experiences with. Doing this alone would have been difficult for me because I didn't know the first thing about babies and kids. I read information online, but it was my new group of friends who supported me."


10. Make a Google Calendar event for Self-Care Sundays.

Casey Gueren

"Sometimes it's reading and a hot bath, sometimes there's only time for a fresh coat of nail polish. The point is to spend time not caring for others, but for myself. For instance, I was spit up on twice while typing this, but while I was using my hand to catch it, I noticed how pretty my red nail polish is.

I will also say that after having my son, I have had some unpleasant bouts of body insecurity, and making time to love my body, or feel positive about what I can control, like hair or nails, has really helped me feel confident again."


11. Find something that makes your soul happy.

Instagram: @kadiasaraf / Via

"This is an easy one to forget. It's not bonus stuff, this is the part that can make us happy and well," says Hibbert. This might include meditation, gardening, painting, some workout class you love, crafting, whatever. Something that puts you at peace and lets you just zen out with your thoughts.

12. Give yourself time outs when you need it — and enforce them.

When kids are young, Hibbert suggests finding ways to take little breathers when they're playing and you know they're safe. That might be ducking into your room for five minutes to just breathe or it might be listening to a podcast while you're watching them at the park. If they're having trouble giving you that time, give them the first 15 minutes of uninterrupted attention and play, then let yourself take the rest of the hour, says Hibbert.

Once your kids are a little older, start teaching them the importance of self-care and taking time to recharge (both for yourself and for them). Maybe that's one hour of quiet, bedroom time every day. Use a timer or print out "Do Not Disturb" signs to help enforce it.

13. RSVP "no" to a few functions and don't feel bad about it.

Nickelodeon / Via

"I make sure to have some time to myself every week. I am VERY introverted, so that's really important for me to keep functioning. For a long time, I tried to take care of everyone before myself, and I crashed and burned. After a couple of severe depressive episodes, I realized that it's fine to say NO. The world will keep right on spinning if I don't do this for Girl Scouts or make that playdate. No shame and no guilt."


14. Prep a bunch of snacks and meals each week.

Instagram: @justjenni / Via

This way when you're hungry and busy and exhausted, you won't also be limited to just takeout or dinosaur nuggets. Even if it means getting a babysitter for a few hours, taking some time to cut and wash a bunch of fruits and veggies or pre-package some snacks and lunches will be super helpful later, suggests Hibbert.

15. Don't compare your parenting style to someone else's.

Facebook: BuzzFeedParents

"Know that escaping to the bathroom even if you don't really have to go is not only OK but good for you. Don't let other parents make you feel guilty or weird for whatever parenting thing you do that they don't. At the end of the day the only ones who matter are you and your children.

Most importantly, don't feel guilty for not being perfect all the time. Every mom has moments that they feel anger, resentment, impatient and like you just can't take one more question or meltdown, and it's perfectly normal and it doesn't mean you're a bad parent."


16. And maybe unfollow those Facebook parents that make you feel like crap.

Bravo / Via

You know that one who always seems to have her shit so delicately together that you want to scream? Or the mom who somehow has time for weekly manicures and Soul Cycle even though you can barely get four hours of sleep? Yeah, don't concern yourself with how they do whatever they do.

"I see my clients online and I see them in my office, and they're trying so hard to appear perfect because they don't feel like it at all," says Hibbert. It's natural to compare ourselves to our peers, but it becomes a problem when it causes you to question your own self worth. Every home, routine, child, parent, and family dynamic is different. "You can admire things and get ideas from people who inspire you, but if you're comparing yourself it implies you're feeling worse about yourself."

17. Make a child-proof room for dates at home.

Instagram: @ / Via

"We have a two-story house and after many dateless years (because we were reproducing like feral cats) we had the idea to make a childproof 'movie theater' out of our guest room. Now we get a special snack, popcorn, and a DVD and every Saturday we have a date upstairs while they have a party downstairs. No babysitter needed. Only once have we been interrupted for sibling bickering."


18. Hide the good snacks.

"I keep a stash of the 'good stuff' at work: Toblerones, baggies of Foot Loops, a jar of almond butter, etc. I indulge when I'm having a bad day, and I don't have to hear, 'I want some!' from my two boys."


19. Or find a good snack and go hide. / Via

"I take cookies into the bathroom and lock the door."


20. Plan a friends trip.

FOX / Via

"Every year I go on vacation to Florida for a week, usually with my best friend. It's important for me to do things without my kids or husband. It helps keep me Me, and reminds me that I'm more than a mom, wife, counselor, and student."


21. Have a safe word for when you need a little extra help — or when your partner might.

ABC / Via

"We have a son with autism and his behavior can be very stressful. We take turns to deal with any meltdowns and the non-active parent stays close to help. We have a safe word where if we think the parent dealing with behavior is getting too stressed, the other steps in with a non-confrontational word to let them know that it's getting too heated and they can tag out. This means neither parent loses their temper and our son is less stressed because there's always a calm parent dealing with whatever the situation is. We like the word 'pineapple.'"

—Sally-Marie Bartlam-Hawes via Facebook

22. Plug in to a podcast while you're doing something together.

"I'm a stay at home mommy of a 1-year-old. We go hiking every day on a four-mile trail. It gets us out and in the woods, in nature. I think that's good for the soul. He rides and snacks, then leans back for a nap while I listen to my favorite podcast 'Guys We Fucked.' Win-win."


23. Take a legit bath with some tea...or wine.

Instagram: @sipcaddy / Via

"Get some good hot tea and take a long hot bath with Epsom salts or bubbles. Light some candles, bring a book. As a single mom of two, sometimes that's the only time I get to myself."


24. Hide in the bathroom when you need it (and when your kids are safe).

25. Trade a "day off" with your partner.

26. Or give each other one morning to peacefully sleep in.

Instagram: @buzzfeeddiy / Via

"Nothing too big, but my husband and I each get to sleep in (until 9 a.m.) on one weekend day. We decide on Friday night which one of us wants Saturday morning. It's kind of nice!"

—Melissa Uchic via Facebook

27. Remember that wine is a thing that exists.

28. Also sex.

Flo Perry / Via

"Sex is important and keeps my hubby and I connected when we're too dead tired to even speak with our words. Plus it's just amazing and is the perfect way to feel how much we love each other."


29. Know when to reach out for professional help.

Instagram: @buzzfeedhealth / Via

"There's a difference between being overwhelmed or burned out and being depressed or having an anxiety disorder," says Hibbert.

If your feelings or symptoms are getting in the way of your life or your ability to parent, that's usually a sign that you should reach out to a close friend, family member, or professional. Another good rule of thumb is if your symptoms persist for two weeks or more, or if they get worse quickly, check in with your provider or someone you trust.

Parenting Week is a week of content devoted to honoring the hardest job you'll ever love, being a parent. Check out more great Parenting Week content here.

Andrew Richard

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