Department of Family Services

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Michael A. Becketts

Parent and Caregiver Questionnaire SPICES Up Self-Care Routines

(Posted 2021 December)

Let’s talk self-care! During this hectic season, it can be really easy to get busy and forget the importance of making time for yourself. Trying to manage limited time and resources can make it harder for parents and caregivers to enjoy family time. 

It might seem counterintuitive, but it is important to invest time in self-care so you can be fully present with your children and loved ones. This is true regardless of the time of year.

The Parenting Education Programs staff has some advice to help you evaluate how well you are caring for yourself. Pulled from The Nurturing Parenting Program curriculum, staff explains that there are six basic human needs called SPICES:

  • variety of spices in spoons on tableSocial – The need for friendship and companionship.
  • Physical – The need for food, sleep, exercise, air, water.
  • Intellectual – The need for stimulation of new ideas or thought.
  • Creative – The need to express one’s inner self. Creative needs are expressed in areas like a person’s appearance, dress, dance, poetry, and cooking.
  • Emotional – The need for love, praise, security, trust, and other basic emotions.
  • Spiritual – The need for belonging and membership. The need to believe in the power of goodness. Membership in a family is a spiritual experience.

The best way to nurture yourself is by making sure all your needs are met. Each of these areas is key to your resilience, or ease at adapting to unexpected challenges. So, check out this questionnaire to determine how well you are doing at self-care.

Question 1

How often should you visit or call friends and family?

two people talking and having coffee and pastriesThere is no right or wrong answer to this question. Everyone has varying needs for being around others. However, some level of social interaction is good for all people.

“Research shows that having a strong network of support or strong community bonds fosters both emotional and physical health and is an important component of adult life.” Developing and maintaining adult relationships with regular interaction or even having a pet for companionship can help stave off feelings of isolation and loneliness. (Why Being Social is Good for You (

Question 2

How can you measure your physical health?

person running outside with dog followingAsk yourself a few questions such as:

  • How often do you get outside?
  • How often do you exercise?
  • How much do you sleep on average?
  • Do you make healthy eating choices?
  • When is the last time you saw a doctor?

All these add up to your overall physical fitness. Talk with your doctor for concrete recommendations or check out the CDC guidelines. Make your health a priority so you can be around a long time for your children and loved ones. 

Question 3

What are some ways to boost brain function?

paint brush on multi colored canvasLike any other part of the body, the brain needs exercise to stay in shape. Pursuing activities that stretch your mind can only benefit you. There is research suggesting that mental exercises help to delay the decline in thinking skills. Reading, taking a class, exploring a hobby, doing puzzles, or learning something new like a language or instrument are all ways to keep your mind sharp for many years to come.

Question 4

How can you express your individuality?

variety of spices in bowls on tableCreativity keeps life interesting and opens up endless possibilities for personal growth. It doesn’t have to cost you anything extra. Trying out new recipes, changing up accent pieces in your wardrobe, getting a new hairstyle, or making something artistic to put on display are all ways you can keep your creative spark alive. You know what they say – variety is the spice of life.

Question 5

Are you able to cope with life’s challenges? Can you keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks?

two people outside walking around park pondEveryone experiences the need for emotional support. Fulfilling this need comes from feeling good about yourself and having good relationships that provide a sense of love and security. It’s okay to feel stress, anger, and sadness sometimes, but it’s important to be able to manage negative feelings. When a situation is more than you can handle on your own, it’s important to turn to your network of supporters and maybe even a doctor or therapist for help and a safe space to process emotions.

Question 6

Do you have a network you can count on? Do you spend time in self-reflection?

three people smiling and hugging closelySpirituality can be found in community and belonging. As the old saying goes, no one is an island. Connection to a group, whether it is a spiritual home, a community organization, or a family, creates a sense of belonging that fulfills a need for support. Spirituality is also found in self-reflection. Meditation, prayer, mindfulness, and journaling are all examples of ways to connect inwardly and experience calm, peace, and comfort.

Question 7

Do you believe that your child’s needs are greater than your own?

two parents sitting on park bench holding babyAbsolutely, caring for your children is a top priority, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you don’t take time to do even small things that refill your spirit, then you won’t have any energy to support those around you. If you allow your cup to run dry, then you run the risk of losing your patience and being short-tempered with your children over little things. Make time to nurture yourself!

The Parenting Education Programs is now enrolling for classes that begin in Spring 2021. Join us for more information about positive and effective ways parents can interact with and encourage their children at every age and stage of development. We would love to hear from you. If you have questions or feedback about the topic in this article, send an email to us.

This posting is part of the Department of Family Services' Community Corner where you’ll find timely information about upcoming events, parenting and wellness tips, programs and services, and more! Share these helpful posts with your friends and family. Don't miss out on future postings! Sign up today!

For media inquiries, contact Department of Family Services' Public Information Officer Amy Carlini by email, office phone 703-324-7758 or mobile phone 571-355-6672.

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