Department of Family Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

TTY 711

12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building
Fairfax, VA 22035

Michael A. Becketts,

Nurture Yourself in the New Year

(Posted 2020 January)

At the beginning of the year, it seems like everyone is making resolutions to be timelier, exercise more, eat better, and get more sleep. What if instead of making random resolutions that will be forgotten by next week, you commit to a better overall strategy for self-care?

As a parent, too often efforts to take care of oneself can fall short because so much time and energy goes into work and family. However, if you give all of yourself to others, you will have nothing left. You must first lay that foundation of well-being for yourself in order to be a strong support for others. Additionally, taking time for yourself models self-care for your children, which increases the chances that they will become the happy, healthy adults you want them to be.

So, if you're wondering how to be better at self-care, the Parenting Education Programs has some strategies you can try:

Get Out Your Calendar

calendar 2020 yearHave you been putting off that dental exam or annual physical? Now is the time to call up your doctors and dentist and schedule those appointments. You would never let your children miss their annual checkup, and your health is just as much a priority as theirs. Ignoring your body’s signals and neglecting treatment can potentially lead to more serious complications. So, schedule all your preventative screenings and exams now. Once they are on the calendar, they will be harder to forget. Ask questions about any concerns you have and push for testing you think you need.

Make SMART Goals for Your Health

weights, shoes, exercise ballIt is not enough to say that you want to exercise more or eat healthier. Borrow a strategy from the business world, and make your fitness goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) to stay motivated.

  • Start out by choosing a specific, achievable outcome. It should be realistic in your current situation and take into account any restrictions or physical limitations you might have. For example, giving up smoking is a specific goal. While challenging, it is achievable, with the right plan of action.  
  • Goals should also be measurable, such as setting a target weight or exercising a set amount each week. Apps can help you set measurable goals for your health and nutrition and monitor if you are keeping up with your plans.
  • Goals should be time-based. Use a fitness tracker, smart phone app, or even a good old-fashioned paper calendar to set interim milestones and easily measure progress on long-term goals.
  • Finally, goals should be relevant, considering what you enjoy and what motivates you. Maybe you hate to run but love to bike. Setting a goal of running a 5K might be an uphill battle for you, but training for a cycling race would be just the thing to get you motivated!

Schedule Rest and Relaxation

  • bedroomYou know how important it is for children to get a full night’s sleep. Parents also need to make sleep a priority. Sleeping consistently less than six hours a night increases the risk of depression, type two diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It can also lead to increased appetite and weight gain. Getting quality sleep is essential to living a long, healthy life, so adopt some practices that promote sleep:
    • Start with setting a specific consistent bedtime and turn off screens at a set time before then.
    • Practice mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation to calm the body and quiet the mind.
    • Try various apps that play soothing music or sounds designed to help lull you to sleep.
  • Plan time each day to recharge your batteries. Take up or return to a hobby, practice mindfulness, connect with friends, listen to music, date your partner, volunteer, laugh more, etc. Be intentional in scheduling times to do things that build you up and make you happy.

We hope that these ideas can help you to plan ways to intentionally practice self-care so that you can be the parent you want to be.

The Parenting Education Programs is now enrolling for classes that begin in winter 2020. Join us for more information about positive and effective ways parents can interact with 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!

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